No one likes finding insects in their home or business. For some people, though, the reaction is extreme revulsion or fear. Sometimes that’s because of a bad prior experience. In some cases, it’s completely understandable if they have an allergy to bee, wasp, or hornet stings. For certain people, it is a full-blown phobia.
A true phobia of insects is more than just intense dislike. Instead, it’s a strong physical and emotional reaction. For example, someone with an insect phobia even seeing images on TV or a silly toy version could trigger an emotional reaction. Seeing one in person can cause sweating, trembling, anxiety, and other physical reactions.
Why Do I Fear Bugs?
What causes a fear of bugs is a question scientists, psychiatrists, and average people have all asked – but no single answer has been named. Instead, experts believe one of a few factors trigger the fear.
First, insects can be dangerous. From the diseases carried by mosquitoes to allergic reaction-inducing stings, some insects can quite literally kill you. Even a non-venomous bite can kill if it causes certain infections, such as those from spiders that cause necrotic or flesh-eating infections. Researchers believe that the primary reason for insect phobias, much like snake phobias, is a learned evolutionary response to protect us from harm.
However, this aspect of insect phobia is not universal or can vary according to the type of insect. In some parts of the world, certain insects are viewed as a food source, so the reaction can be neutral or even positive.
Second, some researchers believe that some people’s brains confuse extreme disgust with fear. This fear can overlap with fear of infestation and can be especially true for insects like cockroaches. Extreme disgust for certain items, like rotten food or feces, is also believed to be an evolutionary response because exposure to such things can make you sick. Similarly, cockroaches are attracted by both regular and rotten food, as well as other filth, further blurring the line.
Finally, the strange appearance of some insects can trigger fear because they don’t look “normal” to us. Humans and insects do not share an evolutionary bond. While our closest genetic relatives are simians such as chimpanzees, humans also have core commonalities with other mammals.
Some animals, like cats and dogs, have an ancient relationship with humans, whereas bugs don’t look or seem familiar on that same primal level. While a person can have a phobia regarding cats, dogs, and even squirrels, it is far less common than an insect phobia and tends to be related to a specific bad incident. By contrast, more people are likely to think those four-legged animals are cute.
Do I Have a Phobia of Bugs?
While some people do like insects, a reaction ranging from avoidance to extreme revulsion is much more common. Still, a dislike – even when intense – is very different than a true phobia.
Symptoms of an insect phobia include, but are not limited to:
- Intense fear reaction
- Anxiety (especially if the insect comes closer)
- Inability to function in the presence of the insect
- Extreme methods to avoid insects (such as a reluctance to go outside)
- Fast heart rate
- Shortness of breath
- Dry mouth
- Tightness in the chest
A person can have a phobia of insects in general or a specific insect without experiencing all of these symptoms. However, at least three of those symptoms tend to be experienced by those with a phobia.
What is the Fear of Bugs called?
When referring to fear of insects in general or universally, the correct term is entomophobia. However, terms also exist for phobias regarding specific categories of insects:
- Myrmecophobia – Fear of ants
- Apiphobia – Fear of bees
- Skathariphobia – Fear of beetles
- Scolopendrphobia – Fear of centipedes
- Katsaridaphobia – Fear of cockroaches
- Orthopterophobia – Fear of crickets
- Muscaphobia – Fear of flies
- Mottephobia – Fear of moths
- Anopheliphobia – Fear of mosquitoes
- Spheksophobia – Fear of wasps
Arachnophobia (the fear of spiders) is probably the most well-known of these terms. While spiders are not technically insects, for the purposes of this topic it makes sense to include them.
Insect phobias in general or for specific insects can be treated through exposure therapy, Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), medication or a combination thereof.
Arrow Keeps Your Home Pest-free
Whether you or someone in your family has an insect phobia or not, protect your home from pests. Talk to our experts at Arrow about preventative pest control. To get started, contact Arrow Exterminating today.