It is most highly developed in social insects such as ants, termites, wasps and bees. The word was introduced by the entomologist William Morton Wheeler in 1918. The behaviour has been used to explain theories of how social behaviour developed in insects. The French psychologist and entomologist August Forel also believed that food sharing was key to ant society. He used an illustration of it as the frontispiece for his book The social world of the ants compared with that of man.
- Wheeler W.M. 1918. A study of some ant larvae with a consideration of the origin and meaning of social habits among insects. Proc. Am. Phil. Soc., 57, 293-343.
- Roubaud E. 1916. Recherches biologiques sur les guepes solitaires et sociales d'Afrique. La genese de la vie sociale et l'evolution de l'instinct maternel chez les vespides. Ann Sci Nat 1:1-160
- Sleigh, Charlotte (2002). "Brave new worlds: trophallaxis and the origin of society in the early twentieth century". Journal of History of the Behavioral Sciences. 38 (2): 133–156. doi:10.1002/jhbs.10033. PMID 11954038.
- Dahbi A. Hefetz A. Cerda X. and Lenoir A. 1999. Trophallaxis mediates uniformity of colony odor in Cataglyphis iberica ants (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) Journal of Insect Behavior. 12(4):559-567 abstract Archived 2012-02-29 at the Wayback Machine