Empathy For All, Except…

Does empathy for all include insects? Is it because a bug is so small in comparison to us and considered pests that our empathy might not extend to them?

This week I stepped in for a teacher to go get some water. I was only outside with the children for a few minutes when I noticed most of the group was over at the bushes. I went over to see what they were doing. This is when I saw a girl ripping the wings off of a beetle. I was shocked! This was our conversation…

Me: What are you doing, did you just rip his wings off?
Girl: Yes.
Me: Why?
Girl: Because they’re eating our plants and making holes in them.
Me: So you’re ripping their wings off for that?
Girl: Yes, gardeners say to do this.
Me: What? I have never heard of such a thing. What gardeners?
Girl and other students: All gardeners. They’re killing all of our plants, bushes, and trees so they’re killing us.
Me: They are not killing us. We don’t rip the wings off of insects, that’s cruel. That would be like someone ripping your arms off.
Another girl: So, I wouldn’t care.

Group of kids went to picnic table and were all talking about it, I went over to listen and then intervened.

Me: What gardeners are you talking about say to do this?
Girl: All of them because if they’re killing your plants you need to do that or just kill them.
Girl and other students: They’re killing us.
Me: Look around, there are plants, trees, and bushes everywhere. We are fine, they are not killing us! I understand some people choose to take some kind of action at their homes if they feel a bug is a problem, but here we are not doing that.

I found out that this was not just one insect she did this too. She had been doing this on a regular basis and taught the other kids how to do it. This is not a curious two year old, this is a 12 year old who should know better.

I gotta tell you this really disturbed me. After I saw her rip that insect’s wings off I saw that little guy trying to fly away, flapping so hard but there was nothing there. Then the girl just tossed him in the air like he was nothing and he fell to the ground.


So this got me thinking, do insects not deserve the same empathy a furry cute creature does? It is a living, feeling being too.

I found a very interesting online discussion with the following question as the topic: “If you injure a bug, should you kill it and relieve its pain, or hope it survives?”

I found the responses quite interesting. One person said in the time they took to answer the question they could have shared their faith with another person. Basically saying people are wasting their time discussing the topic of insects. But I beg to differ. Insects like animals and like us are all God’s creation. There is not any part of me that believes for one second that he wants ANYTHING treated badly or to suffer. So to discuss this and get people thinking about it has the potential to bring more compassion for all to a world that needs it badly. (link to the discussion: If You Injure A Bug)

The child that pulled the insects wings off needs to understand that, that was an act of cruelty.

How can we really know what an insect experiences as far as pain? There is no way to be sure. The bottom line should be, be kind to people, to animals, and to insects. We should teach this to children too. There shouldn’t be empathy for all, except…! Just empathy for all.


Awesome pic my friend took of a bee caught in flight. Magnificent!


20 thoughts on “Empathy For All, Except…

  1. colinandray

    Perhaps you’re being somewhat ideaIistic, in that you are comparing your perspective (adult) to a child’s perspective. I think it unlikely that the age difference will ever be bridged on matters such as this topic. They probably have parents who spray wasps, squish spiders and stomp on ants!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Animals Are Feeling Beings Too Post author

      I definitely believe they learn behaviors. Sometimes I think it’s more than that. It’s “understandable” when a two year old picks up a bug and is curious and may rip the poor thing to shreds just looking at it. This was a 12 year old girl who really should know better. I didn’t make the age clear in the post, but since your comment I added her age.


  2. Lauren

    I do not like flies or spiders in my house, and I methodically kill them. Flies are disease vectors, and spiders are simply not creatures I can stand having in my house, even though they might trap flies. I’m sorry, LeeAnn, but bugs are not under my protection, any more than rats would be if we had them around, which, thankfully, we don’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Animals Are Feeling Beings Too Post author

      Hi Lauren. I get the whole thing about bugs in the house, etc. even though I still have empathy for them. My pastor has spoken about his empathy for insects and how he catches the ones in his house and puts them outside instead of killing them. I know a lot of people who do that. But my point on today’s post was more the act of pulling the wings off of the insects. It was a 12 year old that should know better and who at that age should have some empathy.


  3. thelongview

    I agree with you entirely, Lee Ann. Children should be taught that cruelty is cruelty, no matter the size or species of the victim. Your pastor is the perfect example, but I think one has to be very evolved to do that. I used to put out poison for cockroaches, now I catch and release them outside. But I still cannot stop myself swatting at mosquitoes.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. reflectionsbyexodushouseministries

    I believe if God made it…it deserves a measure of respect. When they are in their natural habitat, they increase the health of the land, though sometimes I can’t imagine how.😏 However…if they’re in my home or carry a disease, sorry..but all bets are off. A lot of venomous insects can hurt or kill animals children. That being said….it gives no one the right to simply be cruel and pull the wings off something small for (pardon the language) “shots and giggles.
    Mean and careless are taught as much as kindness and compassion.
    BE blessed.😺🐾🐝🐜

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Animals Are Feeling Beings Too Post author

    Great discussion here. Thank you for the comments. I get people’s feelings about insects (& rodents), I really do. As I’ve mentioned, I’m mostly talking about the senseless & intentional cruelty towards any living creature. For example, with mouse traps, if it’s necessary to have one, then it should be on that instantly kills them, unlike something like a glue trap that slowly does. To me that is just plain cruel. (although a live trap would be my 1st choice) What the twelve year old girl did is what inspired this post, but it is more than just about what she did (and I really feel she was old enough to know better and so does all of my coworkers), it was a post in general to get us thinking about insects and how we may see them. And if you know me, you know I am a believer in teaching children empathy, this is why I am a huge fan of the RedRover Readers program. I am starting to train staff how to implement this program into their classroom. A post to come soon on that with a pic of me and a couple of teachers πŸ™‚ )
    Again great discussion. I welcome all of your comments & thoughts. Love you all!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. catladymac

    A 12-year-old should be aware that there are plenty of insects WE need to live – the crisis with bees should be taught in any biology/ecology class at the grade school level. The malarkey that kid was spouting about them killing us…substitute “immigrants” for “insects” in the kid’s rant and see if it sounds familiar.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Kathy

    There are human ways of keeping unwanted “guests” away from our homes and such, no need in my opinion to kill mice in traps or with poison or glue traps. All of them are inhumane, many a mouse gets stuck in traps and do not die instantly but suffer a prolonged death, like an a wolf or other animal in a steel jawed trap. https://shepherdingcreation.com/cleaning-products-humane-guest-removal/

    I can understand your feelings LeeAnn about insects. I don’t think it is right either to torture any living thing. Insects *may* not feel in the same capacity as we do, but they still suffer most likely. Like this little insect who could not fly away but just fall to the ground instead. It is sad to me, too, makes me want to cry….. Yes, there is SUCH a need for school children to learn empathy and compassion. Too many adults not teaching their children these values for animals, the earth, AND insects. We should all get together and start a humane school! Or classes that could be incorporated into the schools! SO needed.

    GREAT post! Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ron Walker

    Great post. This may sound strange or gross, but my wife loves animals. She rescued two baby Dumbo Rats (something about them growing to have large ears) that someones pair had given birth to, and they were just going to let them loose in the wild. . She said they make good pets. We helped them survive,

    I have always thought of Rats, and nasty, pests that mindlessly exist to eat the wires in my home, and leave gross droppings. Something that was to be exterminated when found. Sometimes I guess that is required for health and safety of humans to prevent damage, and disease.

    These two have a 150 gallon glass tank we keep them in. She takes them out, and they come to her when she calls them, or clicks her tongue. They stay real close while they are out, accepting treats and constantly cleaning themselves. They romp and play in that huge tank like children, so they must feel joy. I guess the point I am trying to get to, is it really affected me a few weeks ago, when I walked by them after they had been playing, and they both (females) were laying side by side, one had an arm over the other one, asleep. It’s hard for me to think of them now, as mindless animals, that deserve only to be killed. It was wonderful feeling, and yet sad, as I stood there and observed them embraced sleeping.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Animals Are Feeling Beings Too Post author

      Thank you for sharing that Ron. I am so glad you no longer see them as “mindless” and “deserving only to be killed.” If people take the time to pay attention, like you did, they will see that all living creatures are worthy of being treated kindly (even if we think they’re gross).

      Liked by 1 person

  9. petersironwood

    Good one! I really think you’d enjoy my current set of stories exploring empathy. The premise: The shaman of the (mythical) Veritas is looking for her eventual successor and is therefore devising an increasingly difficult series of trials for candidates — mainly they test empathy. Here’s a link to the first test. Comments welcome! https://petersironwood.wordpress.com/2018/08/07/myth-of-the-veritas-the-first-ring-of-empathy/

    Liked by 1 person


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