I have always wondered if insects belongs to the animal realm in Buddhism, and I have yet to read stories about rebirth as an insect, such as a butterfly, a mosquito, or a praying mantis.

6 Answers 6


According to Buddhism, rebirth can take one of four types:

  1. Opapatika - spontaneous rebirth
  2. Samsedaja - born or arisen from moisture
  3. Andhaja - born in an egg, oviparous
  4. Jalabuja born from a womb, viviparous

Most insects belong to the andhaja group, I think. But yes, as others have mentioned, insects are considered a potential realm of rebirth.

Examples from the texts:

Queen Upari (Ubbari)

Persons favored by fortune enjoying privileges of wealth, family, education, rank, physical beauty etc., are prone to exhibit haughtiness in their dealings with others. Shrouded in their own vanity and self-esteem, they become neglectful in their performance of meritorious deeds. Humility plays no part in their make-up. The Blessed One had taught in the Cūḷakammavibhaṅga sutta that such vain-glorious, haughty persons are liable to land up in lowly inferior re-births. On the other hand, unpretentious persons who show humility and pay reverential respects to those deserving of homage will be reborn in noble families.

Queen Upari of our story was extremely beautiful and being the chief queen of the ruling monarch was of very high status in life. She had her head turned by these pre-eminent qualities and looked down with contempt on those she should have shown her respects. For such unwholesome attitudes and actions, it may be presumed she was reborn a lowly female cowdung-beetle. On hearing this account of rebirth of his beloved queen as a female beetle, King Assaka promptly rejected it, saying "I don't believe it."

The hermit replied, "I can show you the female beetle and make her talk too." The king said, "All right. Please do and make her talk too." The hermit using his supernatural powers of abhiññā made a vow for both the male and female beetles to make their appearance before the king.

When the male and female beetles emerged from the heap of cowdung into the presence of the king, the hermit said, "Oh King, the female beetle which is following from behind was your chief queen Upari devi. Having abandoned you, she is now trailing the male cowdung-beetle wherever it goes. Oh King, have a good look at the female beetle who was lately your chief queen Upari."

The king refused to believe the hermit. "I can't believe that such an intelligent being as my queen Upari was reborn as this female beetle", said the king.

True, for those who do not quite believe in the laws of kamma and its resultant effect, who do not understand the principles of conditionality or causal relationship, as explained in Paṭiccasa-muppāda, it would be difficult to accept that a being of the human world should have gone down so low as to become a mere beetle. Even in these days of sāsanā when Buddha's teachings are widely prevalent, there are some people holding the view that "when man dies, he cannot descend into an existence inferior to that of a human being". So it is not surprising that during the dark ages when Buddha's dispensations were yet unheard of, such stories of incarnation were received with scepticism.


Ven. Tissa

Tissa.-An Elder of Sāvatthi. He once received a length of coarse cloth as a gift and handed it to his sister to be made into a robe. She had the cloth pounded and spun into fine yarn and made of it a soft robe-cloth. At first Tissa would not accept it but was prevailed upon to do so and had it made into a soft robe by skilled robe-makers. He died on the night it was finished and, as a result of his fancy for it, was reborn as a louse in the robe. After his death, the monks wished to divide the robe but the louse started shouting. The Buddha, hearing this by his power of divine audience, asked the monks to lay the robe aside for seven days. At the end of that period, the louse was reborn in the Tusita world. DhA.iii.341ff.


  • Thanks, but aren't most insects are oviparus? Is the concept of egg in Buddhism different from science?
    – fxam
    Commented Jun 28, 2014 at 2:25
  • Right, sorry, fixed. No, I don't think there's a list of what animals are which type. Commented Jun 28, 2014 at 2:30
  • 2
    Some insects may historically have been thought of as "moisture born". For mosquitoes, though a microscope can show us a tiny egg is involved, it would be an understandable conclusion. Commented Jun 28, 2014 at 9:34
  • @yuttadhammo, is that Queen Ubbari story drawn from a particular sutta?
    – Caleb Paul
    Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 13:49
  • @Wideshanks It's from the Assaka Jātaka Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 8:04

yes insects are also a kind of animal. In buddhism it is mentioned that one can rebirth as any kind of animal accordiing to the deeds whom has done. I am a buddhist and please note these points.

Accordiing to the buddhism,

The only thing you take to the next birth is what you have done when you were alive ( called Meritorious Deeds) .

Rebirth as a human is a rare incident. (onece budda has mentioned that it is like the amount of the sand which you can get from the land to your thumb vs the rest of the sand in tha land Ex: Universe )


SN 20.2: Nakhasikha Sutta: The Tip of the Fingernail

Staying at Savatthi. Then the Blessed One [Lord Buddha], picking up a little bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monks, “What do you think, monks? Which is greater: the little bit of dust I have picked up with the tip of my fingernail, or the great earth?” “The great earth is far greater, lord. The little bit of dust the Blessed One has picked up with the tip of his fingernail is next to nothing. It doesn’t even count. It’s no comparison. It’s not even a fraction, this little bit of dust the Blessed One has picked up with the tip of his fingernail, when compared with the great earth. “In the same way, monks, few are the beings reborn among human beings. Far more are those reborn elsewhere. Thus you should train yourselves: ‘We will live heedfully.’ That’s how you should train yourselves.”

End Edit

One must have a lot of good deeds to have all the confrot in a life. Buddihism does not accept to leave everything to past which means accepting everything as a result of the past and leave them. budda once mentined that if you have the courage you can even change the effects of your bad deeds.

Finaly keep in mind life is short do good things and improve your capability to get close to Nirvana. (the event or process of the extinction of the fires of attachment (raga), aversion (dvesha) and ignorance (moha or avidya).In the Buddhism, when above fires are extinguished, one is released from the cycle of rebirth (samsara) and suffering (dukkha) comes to an end.

  • I always liked the probability thought experiment explained as: the chance a single blind turtle in all the world covered with water coming up from the depths once every hundred years and sticking its head through a single life preserver randomly floating along. Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 16:57
  • yes of course. All in all buddhism teach us that " being a human you must not waste your life and shoud live a life that is worthwhile to your current life and your next births."
    – Priyankara
    Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 17:28
  • It seems to me this answer does not necessarily suggest that human beings may be reborn as lower animals. If it is rare to be born as a human being,this may not entail that it is rare for a human being to be reborn as one. Not disagreeing but just being cautious. . .
    – user14119
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 10:43

I don't know of any stories about rebirth as an insect, but for some evidence of insect consciousness there's always the hilarious Pilahaka Sutta, and its unspoken "these worldly goods and fame are all just dung..."

  • 2
    wow a talking beetle too
    – fxam
    Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 13:01

As far as I can tell the "Animal realm" includes insects. It is a sentient being and I don't see why they wouldn't be a part of samsara.


Just wanted to share an insightful answer in the context of the Prajnaparamita literature:

Rebirth among insects are definitely possible as they form part of the animal realm: one of the three destinations of the threefold world (traidhatuka). In chapter XXVII of the Mahaprajnaparamitashastra there is a section embedded on transmigration.

The prelude of the animal realm is as follows:

The bodhisattva sees the animals (tiryak) undergoing all the torments: they are made to gallop by blows of the whip or stick; they are made to make long journeys carrying burdens; their harness is damaged; they are branded with hot iron.

Here is what is says regarding rebirth among insects:

– If hatred (dveṣa, pratigha) is predominant, they take the form of a poisonous snake (āsiviṣa), a scorpion (vṛṣcika), a spider (lūtā), a bee (madhukara), a myriapod (śatapadī) or a poisonous insect.

– If delusion (moha) is abundant, they are reborn as a kind of worm (kīta), a butterfly, a dung-beetle, an ant (pipīlika), an owl (ulūka), among the insects and stupid birds.

So there you have also the cause defined for being reborn as an insect.


You are the whole you are the nature. You are the truth everything is connected with you.You cant die you can just change your body.

  • 2
    Welcome to Buddhims SE! Can you elaborate on this. How exactly is this an answer to the OPs question?
    – THelper
    Commented Aug 14, 2014 at 7:42
  • "eduladder.com/viewnotes.php?notesid=66" This elaborate this question as whole. And once you got enlighten. You can understand the deep nature of this system.
    – arunwebber
    Commented Sep 27, 2014 at 8:23

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