Do Insects Feel Pain

Insects, like any living being on the planet, have a sensory system that allows them to respond to environmental stimuli.

This subjective nature of pain, direct verification that an outsider feels pain is not possible. In fact, this is the same type of question regarding the conscious mind: it cannot be directly proven that another human being or system, for example, has consciousness.
Do Insects Feel Pain?

  • There may be warning signs indicating that there is a possible danger and in this way the body will seek to flee or defend itself.
  • It's funny because insects actually have a sensory system with very advanced capabilities.

There are some who can see spectra of light from infrared to ultraviolet, or feel stimuli from miles away, communicate by vibrations or ultrasound waves. So, if you wonder if the insects feel, of course they do. (considering that the feeling is different from the emotion).

It also depends on which insect you are referring to, because there is a great diversity of life forms in these organisms. There are aquatic or terrestrial, microscopic or macroscopic, primitive and basal or more evolutionarily derived. So you cannot generalize if everyone feels something as specific as pain, but there are insects that do.

Image depicting how insects feel pain.
Do bugs feel pain when you squish them?

Do bugs feel pain

It may be a different pain to the human, since they have an annelidian type nervous system (like earthworms) that crosses the whole body longitudinally with transverse elongations (like the skeleton of a fish but rotated 90 degrees in the horizontal plane). 

In this way, even though there are nerves throughout the body, there are parts where you may not feel as much pain, such as the tip of a leg for example, which is easy to lose. In addition there is a small accumulation of nodes that give rise to the protocerebrum, which is a primitive brain where nerve signals are received from the sensory system in the same way.

So, considering that pain is associated with the response of a stimulus since it endangers the survival of an individual, it is evident that it is possible that there are insects that feel pain. However, there is much more to study in depth on this topic.

You see, every living system requires feeling and interacting with its external environment through a sensory system, processing that information gathered from the environment and, if applicable, generating a response based on the prior knowledge acquired and processed. 

This quality, sometimes called irritability or excitability, is found even in single-celled organisms. Pain is an essential part of this quality, since it indicates that something is wrong in some part of our body.

We observe in other organisms and that are identical or similar to ours.

  • An idea that was developed by Turing.
  • Our response to pain is to move away from its origin and remedy it with some painkiller. 
  • If an insect, mollusk or earthworm shows an aversion to a painful stimulus, and / or if this response decreases with the activity of an opiate. 
  • We can conclude that it feels some negative sensation, although not necessarily as complex or in the same level of consciousness about us as humans.