Library Header Image
LSE Research Online LSE Library Services

Can insects feel pain? A review of the neural and behavioural evidence

Gibbons, Matilda, Crump, Andrew ORCID: 0000-0003-4485-5740, Barrett, Meghan, Sarlak, Sajedeh, Birch, Jonathan ORCID: 0000-0001-7517-4759 and Chittka, Lars (2022) Can insects feel pain? A review of the neural and behavioural evidence. In: Jurenka, Russell, (ed.) Advances in Insect Physiology. Advances in Insect Physiology. Academic Press, pp. 155-229. ISBN 9780323952644

Full text not available from this repository.

Identification Number: 10.1016/bs.aiip.2022.10.001


The entomology literature has historically suggested insects cannot feel pain, leading to their exclusion from ethical debates and animal welfare legislation. However, there may be more neural and cognitive/behavioural evidence for pain in insects than previously considered. We use Birch et al. 's (2021) eight criteria for sentience to critically evaluate the evidence for pain in insects. We assess six orders (Blattodea, Coleoptera, Diptera, Hymenoptera, Lepidoptera, and Orthoptera) in at least two life stages (adult and first instar juveniles, as well as other instars where relevant data are found). Other insect orders have not received enough research effort to be evaluated. According to the Birch et al. framework, adult Diptera (flies and mosquitoes) and Blattodea (cockroaches and termites) satisfy six criteria, constituting strong evidence for pain. Adults of the remaining orders (except Coleoptera, beetles) and some juveniles (Blattodea and Diptera, as well as last instar Lepidoptera [butterflies and moths]) satisfy 3–4 criteria, or “substantial evidence for pain”. We found no good evidence that any insects failed a criterion. However, there were significant evidence gaps, particularly for juveniles, highlighting the importance of more research on insect pain. We conclude by considering the ethical implications of our findings where insects are managed in wild, farmed, and research contexts.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: © 2022 Elsevier Ltd.
Divisions: CPNSS
Subjects: Q Science
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2022 11:30
Last Modified: 13 Jul 2024 03:36

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item