Do Insects Take Revenge?

Insects are amazing creatures and they are the largest animal group. There are too many insects to keep a count of, and in this article we’ll see if there are any insects who take revenge so stay tuned and keep reading till the end.

So Do Insects Take Revenge? In short, no they do not, insects do not take revenge because they are not complex enough creatures capable of taking vengeance. They only attack you if they see you as a threat, and if you are no longer a threat they just simply ignore you.

We’ll discuss this more later in the article, but first we must discuss if insects feel emotions.

Do Insects Feel Emotions?

Darwin mentioned in 1872 that insects might feel anger and love, that’s more than 150 years ago and he might have been right, as scientists are now looking more into it.

Unlike human beings you can’t ask bees to tell about their emotions, you have to conduct a proper research experiment in order to provide evidence for a complex phenomenon such as emotions.

Biologist Clint Perry of Queen Mary, University of London formed an experiment to do just that. He along with his colleagues was able to train a couple of bees to differentiate between a blue and a green flower. The blue flower had a 30% sugary water solution, while the green one had no sugar. The bees eventually trained themselves to like the blue flower more.

Later the researchers again tested the bees by placing random flowers, half of the bees were given a sugary solution while the other half were given plain water. The bees who were given sugary water flew faster towards the flowers which showed enthusiasm, the remaining bees flew slower towards the flowers.

Bees assumed that the random flowers would have a reward even though they had no evidence, this is known as optimism bias. Perry’s experiment showed that a bit of sugar made the bees optimistic that the next flower would also have more sugary rewards and so they flew faster.

This is also found in humans, little kids when given candy cry less, similarly adults who are given chocolate turn into a good mood, this is because these treats encourage positivity in humans.

To be sure that the bees’ flying behavior resulted from their underlying emotional state and was not simply a sugar high, the researchers tested the insects on other, unfamiliar flowers in new colors. The effect, Perry says, was specific to flowers with colors that fell somewhere between the blue and green hues they were trained on, not for any other color.

In another test, researchers simulated a predator attack, the bees who were given sugary water showed the same optimism bias. They simulated an attack from crab spiders by grabbing the bees with a sponge-tipped mechanical stamp, the bees who were given sugary water resumed foraging sooner than those who were not. This showed that they were less cautious and more optimistic that they were not being attacked.

In a final experiment, when the researchers gave the bees a drug that disrupted receptors for dopamine, a neurotransmitter linked with motivation and reward, the bias disappeared, echoing the way this brain chemical works in mammals. “Many scientists, even entomologists, still believe that insects are genetically preprogrammed, rigid, behavioral machines,” Perry says. University of Arizona entomologist Katy Prudic, who was not involved with the study, also disagrees with that idea. “Because they’re built so differently, we tend to downplay their emotional states,” she says—“probably because we don’t see it in the same way we would with a dog or a cat or a cow.”

Insects may feel emotions but feelings are a whole different chapter. Even though we use both of these terms interchangeably, emotions are the body’s response to external stimuli while feelings are the subjective experience of them.

So on receiving bad news, your blood pressure might spike and your respiration rate might plummet. If you saw a mountain lion while hiking, your heart, and respiration rates would both increase, your brain would be flooded with cortisol and adrenaline, and your pupils would dilate. These are your body’s emotional responses. And they can be, but are not necessarily, coupled with the subjective feelings of sadness or fear, respectively.

Do Insects Take Revenge?

Insects do not take revenge, they do feel emotions but most of the insects do not think about the future, they are more of a living in the present kind of animal group.


Insects simply do not have the time and energy to waste on revenge. There is no right and wrong when you are out in the wild looking to mate and survive. Revenge doesn’t achieve anything and insects are smart enough to know this. Revenge doesn’t undo any wrong, it doesn’t undo any harm that has been done to them, so they do not focus on taking revenge. Insects will only harm you as long as they see you as a threat to themselves, when they do not feel that you are a threat anymore they simply just ignore you and get on with their life.

Some insects are territorial and so it might look as if they are taking revenge, but they are just simply defining their territory, or trying to protect their families.


Insects do not take revenge because they are smart enough to know that revenge doesn’t accomplish anything, they do have emotions but do they have feelings is a whole another concept.

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