The inquisitive users of Quora—the social networking equivalent of a 2-year-old who keeps asking "Why?"—have put their minds together to answer a burning question from the most gentle person ever to use an internet message board: "If you injure a bug, should you kill it or let it live?"
An age-old question! A dilemma sure to rankle the most sensitive of souls. Dozens of Quora users flocked to this question, spilling thousands of words as they grappled with it. The most "upvoted" answer comes from entomologist Matan Shelomi:
Looks like the philosophers and theists have made their cases. As far as entomologists are concerned, insects do not have pain receptors the way vertebrates do. They don't feel "pain," but may feel irritation and probably can sense if they are damaged. Even so, they certainly cannot suffer because they don't have emotions. If you heavily injure an insect, it will most likely die soon: either immediately because it will be unable to escape a predator, or slowly from infection or starvation. Ultimately this crippling will be more of an inconvenience to the insect than a tortuous existence, so it has no "misery" to be put out of but also no real purpose anymore. If it can't breed anymore it has no reason to live.
Translation: Bugs don't have feelings, so who cares.
In other words, I have not answered your question because, as far as the science is concerned, neither the insect nor the world will really care either way. Personally, though, I'd avoid doing more damage than you've already done. 1) Maybe the insect will recover, depending on how damaged it is. 2) Some faiths do forbid taking animal lives, so why go out of your way to kill? 3) You'll stain your shoe.
Translation: Whatever, fine, if it upsets you that much, don't do it.
In the future, all internet sites will be categorized by the way their most devoted users interact with bugs. Quora worries about insect personhood. 4chan burns ants with a magnifying glass. Gossip sites poke centipedes, then run away screaming.
For the record, you should definitely stomp on any injured bug you see, because stomping on bugs is really satisfying. They're the bubble-wrap of nature. [Quora, image via Ljupco Smokovski/Shutterstock]