A lot of people react negatively to bugs, especially when startled by them. For some people revulsion at the sight of insects is a full-blown phobia. What does entomophobia or fear of insects mean?
Healthline defines a phobia as “overwhelming and causes significant anxiety. It’s different from simply not liking insects or getting a case of the heebie-jeebies when one scurries by. For some, the anxiety is disabling and interferes with their daily activities.”
What is Entomophobia?
The medical definition of entomophobia is “an abnormal and persistent fear of insects.” Some other definitions of phobias include the phrase “irrational fear” but in the case of an insect whose sting or bite is dangerous – or can cause an allergic reaction – the fear is not necessarily irrational. It is just overwhelming.
Those who suffer with this phobia may go to extreme measures or unusual behavior to avoid insects such as constant, repetitive cleaning, excessively spraying insecticide or trying to seal doors and windows. In the most extreme cases sufferers might even avoid going outside.
The Most Common Insect Phobias Are:
- Fear of spiders*
- Fear of daddy long-legs
- Fear of bees and wasps
- Fear of moths
- Fear of ants
- Fear of flies
- Fear of cockroaches
- Fear of crickets
- Fear of mosquitoes
- Fear of bed bugs
* Spiders and other arachnids are not insects, but therapists and the general public commonly list spiders with insect phobias.
Are Insect Phobias Common?
Entomophobia, also referred to as insectophobia, is quite common in the U.S. It is actually more common among people who experience insects the least… such as city dwellers who have limited exposure to nature and therefore a smaller range of insects.
Fear of insects frequently turns into a full-blown phobia after a very bad experience with one. People allergic to bee stings will often develop a fear of bees – which is understandable. Entomophobia can also be a learned response. For example, if a child sees a friend or family member have a bad experience with an insect or an extreme response then it may imprint on them causing a phobia of insects in general or a specific type.
Entomophobia is often entwined with other fears and phobias. Examples include fear of bites, infestation, and contamination which can feed and/or complicate entomophobia.
Do I Have Entomophobia?
Where is the line between disliking or being creeped out by insects versus actually having entomophobia? The symptoms make the difference. Casual or non-phobic dislike means you avoid them when you can, looking away, and other mild reactions. Even making a sound when startled by one or a brief shiver reaction might still be associated with normal revulsion or dislike.
Symptoms of Entomophobia include:
- Panic attacks
- Shortness of breath/hyperventilation
- Rapid heart rate
- Feeling of tightness in the chest
- Dry mouth
- Muscle weakness
A person does not have to experience all of these symptoms to suffer from entomophobia, but some combination will be present. Even a single symptom could be indicative of an insect phobia if that symptom is severe enough or if it is a panic attack.
Can Fear of Insects Be Treated?
Entomophobia can be treated and eased with therapy. Specifically, cognitive behavior therapy (also known as CBT) and exposure therapy are the two most commonly used methods for treating and easing an insect phobia.
In CBT, patients are taught methods to calm and retrain their reaction to insects. In exposure therapy, a person is gradually introduced to the insect, starting with something like thinking about the insect or seeing an image of it – depending upon where the person’s lowest threshold is – and working up to being close to or perhaps even touching the insect without an adverse reaction.
Let Arrow Eliminate Phobia-Triggering Insects
If you have an insect phobia or just find them creepy, you don’t have to suffer. Our experts will identify if you have a pest problem, explain our plan to eradicate your infestation, and give you the peace of mind you need. To get started, contact Arrow Exterminating today.