Due to its many health and environmental benefits, insect consumption (called entomophagy), is becoming more and more mainstream. Crickets are rich in protein, calcium, iron, vitamin B12, and many other nutrients, which makes them an interesting alternative for animal protein. However, this new trend also brings new questions. There is a debate about whether crickets can feel pain and therefore suffer from their harvesting. Several studies have been led to try and tackle this issue.
To start with, let’s analyse this issue on a scientific level. According to this article, insects lack nociceptors, which are more commonly known as pain sensors. This neurological structure transforms stimulus into an emotional experience. Therefore, it is believed that insects can’t react to physical experiences emotionally.
Another idea to take into account is that insects’ life span is short – approximately 6 weeks for crickets. As a result, crickets need to focus solely on eating and reproducing. Imagine that a cricket gets injured; feeling pain would make it want to rest and heal. This would not only reduce the time it has to eat and reproduce, but would also be a loss of time as it would only be healed for the few days it has left to live.
However, as explained in this article, it is important to understand that pain and suffering don’t only depend on senses. Indeed, one can also feel pain through feelings. Whilst some studies show that insects could have emotions, these are not linked to feelings. Emotions refer to the way the organism reacts to stimuli but they only lead to feelings if the organism is capable of linking the experience to a pleasant or unpleasant similar past experience. And the size of insects’ brain does not allow them to do this.
To sum up, many aspects need to be taken into account to tackle the issue of insects’ ability to feel pain, as we have no way of directly communicating with them. Nevertheless, the outcome of all this is that most scientists agree that insects do not have the ability, nor the utility, to feel pain. The debate is not closed and opinions still differ, and thus we are all free to develop our own beliefs on this subject.
Crickets remain living organisms and thus deserve to be treated humanely and with consideration. Our crickets come from an insect farm in Ontario called Entomo Farms, where they live in conditions similar to those they would know in nature, in dark and warm condos. They are free to swarm around and eat whenever and wherever they like. Most importantly, their life cycle is respected and harvest takes place at the end of their natural life span. You can learn more about Entomo Farms here.