Being afraid of bugs is quite a common thing. Not everyone realizes that there are so many different types though. Did you know there are at least eleven different common types of insect phobias? Here we will discuss a few of those and how they affect people.
Common Insect Phobias
The fear of…
- Bugs: Entomophobia
- Ants: Myrmecophobia
- Beetles: Skathariphobia
- Bees: Apiphobia
- Centipedes: Scolopendrphobia
- Cockroaches: Katsaridaphobia
- Crickets: Orthopterophobia
- Flies: Muscaphobia
- Moths: Mottephobia
- Mosquitoes: Anopheliphobia
- Wasps: Spheksophobia
Now these aren’t just having a dislike or wariness of bugs. These are conditions that can have a range of side effects such as crippling anxiety, reluctance to leave the house, and possible tremors. These disorders can affect aspects of life including work, school, and relationships. A person living with an insect phobia can sometimes know that they have an irrational fear yet are unable to control their response when one is seen or even talked about. For me, I can’t even talk about bugs without getting shaky, anxious and nauseated.
Why Are We Afraid of Bugs?
Now many people will have an aversion to insects for good reasons. Some insects feed and live on the human body. Insects include mosquitos, fleas, and ticks. These insects can lead to a number of diseases such as, malaria, Lyme Disease, Q fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and African sleeping disease.
Insect appearance may be another very valid reason. The anatomy is starkly different from what is normal. Some bugs have many more appendages, eyes, or other body parts that humans lack. They will move much differently that can be disturbing to some people. To others, insects are an unpleasant creature because of how they interfere with a person’s sense of control due to their ability to multiply in great numbers. They invade our homes and can make a person feel unsafe or unclean.
What Causes an Actual Phobia?
While there is not always a precise cause of insect phobia, people may develop an exaggerated fear of bugs from a specific negative experience. Should someone get stung by a bee or be bitten by a fire ant, for example, the painful encounters may affect their opinion of all bugs.
Fear of insects may also be a learned response. Children who have witnessed a parent or loved one react with fear to an insect tend to respond similarly. There is also evidence to suggest that those who have suffered brain trauma or experience depression may be more susceptible to phobia development, insect or otherwise.
A phobia is an anxiety disorder that causes a person to react irrationally to and avoid the thing they fear, regardless of whether the perceived danger is legitimate. Anxiety causes unwanted stress in impacted individuals.
Stress is naturally a helpful reaction that prepares us to respond to situations that require focused attention, such as danger or exhilaration. When experiencing these things, the nervous system sends signals for the release of adrenaline. This hormone prepares the body to either fight or flee, a response managed by an area of the brain called the amygdala.
What Are the Symptoms?
Unlike a fear or dislike of insects, a person with entomophobia has an irrational fear of them. Adults with phobias often understand the irrationality of being afraid of something that poses no actual danger. Even still, the mere idea of being near an insect can bring on severe mental and physical symptoms, such as:
- immediate feelings of intense fear or anxiety when seeing or thinking about an insect
- anxiety that worsens as an insect comes closer
- inability to control the fears even though you’re aware they’re unreasonable
- trouble functioning because of fear
- doing anything possible to avoid insects, such as avoiding parks, basements, or activities where they may be present
Entomophobia can also cause physical symptoms, such as:
- panic attacks
- rapid heart rate
- chest tightness
- dry mouth
- shaking or trembling
- crying, especially in children
Being afraid of bugs is relatively common but does not need to take over your life. The fear responds well to a variety of short-term behavioral treatment methods. With a bit of hard work, you can beat even the most stubborn entomophobia.