How smart are insects?

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by Xmo1, Apr 29, 2017.

  1. Xmo1 Registered Senior Member

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    This should have been posted to biology. Sorry, but now I can't move it.
    When I wave (the byebye or shoo wave, not a swat where they will turn and attack me) at wasps flying into the garage, and tell them to leave they do. Most often times not returning. If they do return, and I wave and talk again usually they fly out and not return. Never had an instance where that did not happen. I've had several instances of house flies waiting to leave the house. Today, one kept bothering me by flying around, and alighting on my head. It would then sit on a window blind returning not soon after to bothering me again. So I open the window and screen and let it out. It does fly out immediately upon my opening the screen. How do they know to bother me - that I am something that will let them out? As I say, this has happened many times in both instances of flies and wasps. I do not harbor doubt about this being anything but an insect knowing what is happening, or with the flies knowing that I was the thing that would let them out of the house. Is there an explanation for this behavior?
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2017
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  3. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

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    I thank ther fantastic at bein the insect that they are... an thers no indication i know of that they beleive stoopid sht.!!!
     
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  5. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    There is an explanation for every behaviour. And it's logical, in their world-view: insects are not intelligent enough to be irrational;
    just intelligent enough to succeed at their life-style for millions of years.
    Flies - and most insects - are attracted to light (I guess, because sunshine is where flowers and ripe carrion and warm puddles are likely to be),
    so they'll usually go outside, given the chance. Why they keep butting one's head is usually because we're sitting right under a light; landing on one's hand,
    I can only conjecture is because humans give off an attractive smell - sweat with the scent of whatever we last ate...
    Wasps sometimes react aggressively to hostile motions, but a large, warm, waving thing is probably interpreted as bad news: something that maybe eats insects...
    unless it's holding a soft drink or ice cream come.
    Just don't try reasoning with a moth or mosquito. They are insects of very little brain.
     
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  7. origin Trump is the best argument against a democracy. Valued Senior Member

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    Shooing a wasp results in it leaving? Not surprising.
    I think it is rather amazing that you can distinguish one wasp from another!
    You can read the mind of house flys?
    They don't.
    Yes, the explanation of your behavior is called anthropomorphism.
     
    Randwolf likes this.
  8. Xmo1 Registered Senior Member

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    328
    I wonder if some of them (house flies and wasps here) react to sight and/or sound the same as pets, who when a person behaves disapprovingly the animals respond to it. As I said, this happens many times during the course of a year (especially spring and summer). I'm wondering if there is a mechanism that is very basic to life that produces these behaviors. What changes the brain in babies when mothers stroke and cuddle them in the first days and weeks of their lives? Not asking that question - just support for my observations.
     
  9. Xmo1 Registered Senior Member

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    328
    Or maybe you're just hungry. Get yourself something to eat.
     
  10. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    6,988
    All simple life forms (in terms of brain power) have overlapping behavior rules.

    I watched a TV show a while back where it described a moth circling a flame.
    Moths do not decide to circle a flame.
    They have light receptors on their wings. When light impinges on one wing more than the other, it causes one wing to beat harder than the other, turning the moth back toward the source of light. The moth has no choice in the matter.

    For flies, it might be:
    Fly toward food.
    Fly toward light.
    Avoid fast-moving objects.


    These rules have stimuli
    - chemical odor
    - impinging light
    - fast-moving shadows across vision


    None of these rules are voluntary. They are direct stimulus-response triggers. The rules are independent of each other, but their interaction and overlapping priorities can result in complex behavior.

    Fly trapped indoors.
    Light draws it to window.
    Can't get to light.
    Flight pattern gets increasingly chaotic, venturing further from window in attempt to find light.
    Passes near chemical aura of human emanations, food rule kicks in.
    Chemicals draw it to buzz human.
    Human waves its arms, avoidance rules kicks in.
    Human stops waving arms, fly defaults to food rule.
    Human moves to door (slow movement), fly continues to orbit human.
    Human opens door. Influx of light triggers fly's 'fly toward light' rule.

    Simple rules: complex, emergent behavior.
     
  11. Xmo1 Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    328
    Thanks DaveC. You're amazing. It makes sense to me now. I knew about moth's and the moon. The only way I think about mosquitoes, spiders, and snakes is weather or not they pose a threat. The flies and wasps really had me thinking though. Thanks again.
     
  12. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    1,608
    No. The difference in brain complexity between a fly and a cat puts them is immense.
    Cats have brains, needs and lives similar to humans - which is why we co-exist so happily. http://www.petful.com/behaviors/cat-brain-compared-human-brain/
    They process all different kinds of information about their environment, food sources, familial and social relationships;
    store short- and long-term memories from a wide array of sensory input and experience, and have a range of options, desires and abilities to determine their actions.

    Insects don't even know you exist. They perceive you as an obstacle, a threat or a food source - a large, mobile object.
    However, the brain of even so small a thing as a fly is amazing. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100712102812.htm
     
  13. Randwolf Ignorance killed the cat Valued Senior Member

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    Maybe you're on to something here. Have you tried cuddling and stroking the flies and wasps?
     
  14. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Yes. Flee from fast moving objects. Don't get squished.

    Babies have about 8 or 9 orders of magnitude more neurons, synapses and connections - to store new information and more complex tasks - than an insect.
     
  15. timojin Valued Senior Member

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    No bug left behind is the motto of Megaponera analis, an ant species found in southern regions of Africa. Every day these hunters raid termite nests to keep their colonies fed. But the ants have chosen a dangerous prey, and tussles with large soldier termites often lead to injury—limbs and antennae are sometimes lost on the battlefield. When researchers noticed that large ants called “majors” would pick up fallen soldiers and carry the live ones back to their nests, they decided to study the fate of the injured by marking them with paint. More than 90% of hurt ants recovered to emerge from their nests and march again in future raids, the researchers report today in Science Advances. A secretion from an injured ant’s mandibles seemed to be the key to calling for help; even when perfectly healthy ants were doused in the chemical, majors came around to offer a free ride. But if no help came for an ant in need—too slow to keep up with its departing unit—that ant was almost a third more likely to get eaten by a predator or die of exhaustion on the way home. The number of ants needing rescue each day was roughly equal to the number of ants born, meaning rescues—and the distress pheromone that signals them—help colonies stay strong enough to fight another day.
    No bug left behind is the motto of Megaponera analis, an ant species found in southern regions of Africa. Every day these hunters raid termite nests to keep their colonies fed. But the ants have chosen a dangerous prey, and tussles with large soldier termites often lead to injury—limbs and antennae are sometimes lost on the battlefield. When researchers noticed that large ants called “majors” would pick up fallen soldiers and carry the live ones back to their nests, they decided to study the fate of the injured by marking them with paint. More than 90% of hurt ants recovered to emerge from their nests and march again in future raids, the researchers report today in Science Advances. A secretion from an injured ant’s mandibles seemed to be the key to calling for help; even when perfectly healthy ants were doused in the chemical, majors came around to offer a free ride. But if no help came for an ant in need—too slow to keep up with its departing unit—that ant was almost a third more likely to get eaten by a predator or die of exhaustion on the way home. The number of ants needing rescue each day was roughly equal to the number of ants born, meaning rescues—and the distress pheromone that signals them—help colonies stay strong enough to fight another day.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017...s_weekly_2017-04-14&et_rid=41087911&et_cid=12
     
  16. DrKrettin Registered Senior Member

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    That is very interesting, but is it an indication of intelligence?
     
  17. timojin Valued Senior Member

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    What is intelligence ?
     
  18. DrKrettin Registered Senior Member

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    Knowing what intelligence is.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  19. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    I think that sometimes insects are attracted by things other than light. Sometimes it's chemical. When they buzz around your head and face, it's probably something (CO2?) in your breath that's attracting them.

    I'm inclined to think of insects psychologically speaking as little machines. But pretty advanced machines, by our current engineering standards. There's lot's of AI'ish stuff happening in there. They may in fact display many cognitive capabilities found in 'higher' organisms, albeit in simpler form. They navigate, they identify others of their kind, they learn, they may be able to direct their attention depending on their task.

    http://www.ics.uci.edu/~ddenenbe/248/Selected readings/Artificial Intelligence/HoneybeeCognition.pdf

    http://socialinsectlab.arizona.edu/learning

    http://www.chd.ucsd.edu/_files/fall2008/Dornhaus.2008.MN.pdf

    But it probably doesn't help us understand whats going on behind those compound eyes to imagine what it would be like for ourselves to be in there. I'm not convinced that our folk-psychology vocabulary applies to insects.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2017
  20. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    It's a tricky definition, but it generally revolves around ability to adapt to situations not previously encountered. (or abstracting problem-solving to apply to a broad range of circumstances).

    While ants may exhibit complex behavior, it is not very adaptable behavior; it is instinct.
     
  21. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    The ability to solve a new problem. That is: to change behaviour according to changed circumstances.
    (Not do the same thing a 15th time and expect a different coutcome from the first 14 times. See US foreign policy.)
     
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  22. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    This link may be of interest.
    IMO this is an important movie: The Hellstrom Chronicle

     
    Last edited: May 2, 2017
  23. timojin Valued Senior Member

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    Ants build very complex living centers for themselves , they have structured society, would you say that require some intelligence ?
     

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