The first urge most people get when they see spiders or insects flying around is to squash them or spray them. But have you ever thought about the way insects experience pain? Do they feel it? Or do they just feel the mist of the killer spray before going down peacefully?
For all genuine spider lovers out there, we’ll tell you how spiders perceive pain and whether they feel it like we do, so stick around!
Do Spiders Feel Pain?
Spiders feel external stimuli that can cause pain, and they react to them. But whether they feel pain or not is still a hanging question among scientists. Most of them believe that a primitive creature like the spider doesn’t feel pain the way humans do.
The human nervous systems response to pain is a simple one. You put your hand on a hot surface, then the pain receptors in your hand send a message to the central nervous system and spinal cord, which sends a message to the brain to feel pain and remove that hand.
The key player here is the pain receptors, which spiders lack. Instead, spiders have light rays reception that allows them to respond to light and sensory organs that can detect tremors and vibrations. So they do know when danger is coming, but whether they sense injury is still a mystery.
Another proof that spiders don’t feel irritation or pain like we do is their nervous systems. They consist mainly of an organ called the cephalothorax, which is a combination of a spider’s head and thorax. There are also a few ganglia in the abdomen, and that’s about it.
The simplicity of a spider’s brain’s shape and nervous system indicates how simple a spider’s neurological response is when compared to a human’s.
But, in general, why doesn’t science have a sure answer about whether spiders and other insects feel pain?
Pain: Where Science Falls Short
Despite the astonishing advancements of science in all fields, it falls out of depth in front of perhaps the most complex emotional response known to humans: pain.
Have you ever thought about why pain is mainly associated with humans, not different animals? Let us break it down for you.
Pain is a unique and subjective experience, meaning that it’s only relevant to those who experience it. You can’t observe pain; you can only feel it.
Now, scientists rely on observing for most breakthrough research, so a non-observable subject proves to be nearly impossible to study.
Even if they succeed in detecting external stimuli to the body, how will they know whether it’s a painful or merely uncomfortable experience? The answer to this question is already challenging when talking about humans, who are proven to have pain receptors and who can talk about their experiences.
Now, imagine trying to answer this question regarding a spider, a creature that doesn’t have receptors for pain, has a very different nervous system from ours, and can’t voice out its feelings.
That’s where the term nociception comes in.
What Is Nociception?
Nociception is a dated term that refers to the body’s detection of potentially harmful external stimuli. It doesn’t necessarily accompany the pain. Instead, it can help you avoid it by warning you of impending danger.
Scientists often choose this term to prove pain in spiders, as all insects are proven to have nociceptive responses. Most spiders, after being exposed to danger, learned avoidance of the same situation, which might prove that they felt an unpleasant experience, also known as pain.
How to Get Rid of Spiders Without Killing Them
Irrelevant of whether they feel pain or not, it isn’t advised to squash spiders when you see them, but why? If you’re unlucky enough to encounter a wolf spider, then squashing it might double your problem by sending hundreds of spiderlings hiding in your house’s cracks and crevices.
This is only true for pregnant female spiders, but most people who aren’t interested in insects don’t know the difference between a male and a female spider.
But if you don’t kill a spider, how do you get rid of it?
Spray Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil is a famous repellant because it has a strong scent that annoys most spiders. To get rid of the little creatures without killing them, mix peppermint oil and water in a spray bottle and spritz around all the cracks in your floors and walls.
Take Them Out in Jars
If you only have one or two other spiders lurking around, you can take them out in jars. Put a piece of cardboard on the floor, and wait till the spider walks on it. Then, put the jar on top of it, and release it somewhere far away from your house.
That said, beware that this technique might be challenging to try with fast-moving insects, like jumping spiders.
Open Windows and Doors
The simplest way to drive an insect out of the house is by opening windows and doors and waiting for them to get out. However, this only works if you have enough patience and if the spiders aren’t annoying you too much.
Wrapping Up: Do Spiders Feel Pain?
Spiders can feel different stimuli, but it’s probable that they don’t feel pain as humans define it because they lack the receptors for it. So from an emotional perspective, no, they don’t feel pain.
But that doesn’t mean you’re free to squash spiders whenever you see them. There are many ways by which you can get rid of them without killing them, like using repellants or taking them out in jars.
Driven by a passion for those tiny creatures that rule our world, we at Bug Domain strive to be your go-to resource for information on insects.