Entomophobia, What Is It, Types, Causes, Symptoms and Overcoming It


Are you scared of insects? Well, you’re not alone, Entomophobia is actually a common fear for many people. 

The fear of spiders is the most common and prevalent fear and might be the one that springs to mind, but that is actually called arachnophobia – which is different.

Maybe we’ll tackle that another time, but for now, here’s the quick answer, then we’ll find into more detail. 

What Is Entomophobia? Entomophobia, also known as insectophobia, is the fear of insects. Entomophobia is commonly caused because of the fear of being in proximity to or contaminated by insects. This fear is relatively common, especially for people who have where people have fewer interactions with nature.

An entomophobia is a form of phobia, it causes symptoms that are sometimes uncontrollable – more on that below. 

But having an overall understanding of the topic is necessary to overcome it. So to give you a clear understanding, below is a small background explanation to help you understand Entomophobia. 

Understanding Entomophobia

As Entomophobia is a type of phobia, the key to understanding it comes from understanding what a phobia is. According to the National Institute of Health, a phobia is:-

‘an ongoing and unreasonable fear of a certain object, animal, activity, or situation that poses little to no actual danger.’

National Institute of Health

This means that a person going through phobia unconsciously exaggerates the perceived threat of a particular stimulus. The stimulus can be blood, heights …and insects!

Any person going through a phobia has prior experience with a source that causes the phobia. This can be true of instances whereas a toddler you were stung by a wasp, or you fell sick because of an insect allergy or someone died because of an insect inherited disease. 

Phobia can also be partially hereditary or passed down from parent to child. This can happen through some combination of genes and other learned behaviors. 

Learned behavior is where you see a person has a phobia towards something and develop a similar phobia within yourself.  

Now we have an understanding of Entomophobia, let’s see what causes Entomophobia. 

What causes Entomophobia?

The factors that cause Entomophobia may be categorized as environmental, psychological, and medical or drug-related. Some of the common causes of Entomophobia are as follows. 

Fear of contamination

Like I said the first main cause of Entomophobia is the fear of being contaminated by insects. This is because many insects such as cockroaches, flies, and bugs carry diseases.

Along with this many fear contamination because of the disgusting looks of certain creatures that create anxiety. Some research has even shown that many tend to fear creatures that look disgusting over dangerous animals. 

Fear of being bitten and infestation

Some people fear being bitten by insects and the consequent illness that may set up. Some allergic reactions, particularly to bee stings and fire ant bite also cause Entomophobia.

Along with these some also fear their body may become infested with bugs. Some also say that this fear of infestation may be caused by delusional thoughts rather than a simple phobia.

entomophobia - fear of insects
entomophobia – fear of insects

Environmental causes

The presence of static electricity, mold, pollen, household allergens, and formaldehyde impregnated products can all manifest as unexplained dermatitis or skin irritations.

This leads a person to believe it’s caused by insects and thus developing phobia towards insects. 

Medical conditions and trauma

Certain medical conditions such as syphilis, meningitis, fluoride poisoning, anxiety disorders, thiamine or folate deficiencies, cirrhosis adrenal insufficiency, mental retardation, hyperthyroidism, etc. are also considered as factors that can cause Entomophobia.

Psychological factors

Psychological stress factors such as a divorce, loss of employment,  loss of a loved one or pet, former experience with a traumatic or tragic incident, financial downfalls and even professional and personal life imbalance, etc. are stressors that are linked to Entomophobia.

Social isolation

People who live alone tend to go through this phobia. When living alone, their health becomes a fixation allowing them to interact with doctors more.

Because of this, they start obsessing over their skin and other dermatitis diseases. This can make them constantly think about insects, bugs and related allergies. These thoughts then eventually turn into an Entomophobic fear. 

Depression

Although not often identified. Depression is another cause of Entomophobia. This is because depressed individuals have less interest in life. This also makes them have low self-esteem and feelings such as worthlessness. This depressed feeling and insecurity trigger the fear toward insects, bugs and related creatures causing Entomophobia. 

While these causes may differ from one to another, it’s important for one to observe the symptoms of Entomophobia. Observing the symptoms of Entomophobia can help one easily overcome it before worse outcomes. 

Symptoms of Entomophobia

For most people, Entomophobia is a low-level fear, usually resulting in a mild state of panic, waving your arms around and/or running 12 feet away!

But for those that it affects more seriously, it’s more than just the common symptoms of Entomophobia which is the irrational fear toward an insect that may not pose any danger. For these people, it can include even being near to an insect that can cause so much irritation.

In addition to that, the following are some other severe mental and emotional symptoms of Entomophobia. 

  • An instant feeling of intense fear and anxiety when thinking of an insect. 
  • A level of anxiety that worsens when an insect comes closer
  • Finding it difficult to control the fear of insects when there is no reason to fear.
  • Difficulty in concentrating or functioning at the thought of an insect 
  • Doing everything possible to avoid interactions with insects. This may include avoiding going to parks, basements or even avoid being or playing outside, or in any other areas where insects may be present. 

Entomophobia can also cause physical symptoms, such as:

  • Shaking or trembling
  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Panic attacks
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Hyperventilation
  • Chest tightness
  • Crying, especially in children

The fear of insects is relatively common. But it still may not have to take control of your life. There is plenty of ways one can easily get rid out of Entomophobia – note on that below.

We’d really like to hear about your own experience with Entomophobia! Please let us know in the comments below!

So let’s see how Entomophobia might be treated.

What can you do about Entomophobia?

All is not lost, you can overcome entomophobia. The first question to ask is … do you want to overcome it? I mean, you’ve managed to function in your life for this long with this phobia in place – and managed just fine.

But there are plenty of short-term treatment methods, with a little bit of hard work that can help a sufferer beat even the most stubborn Entomophobia.

How is Entomophobia treated?

Before we begin, it’s important to remember that the goal of treating Entomophobia is to stop phobia from interfering with one’s quality of life. So the treatments will be focused on teaching one how to manage the phobia and then eventually get rid of it. The following are some common methods of treating Entomophobia.

So, if you’ve decided you’ve had enough and want to be less scared next time something comes buzzing or crawling near you then here are a few steps you can take…

Mere exposure effect

This treatment typically involves exposing an individual to the source of the phobia in a controlled environment. The process is repeated until an individual changes their response or reaction towards the source. This is also called systematic desensitization.

This means that you’ll be exposed to insects that cause your phobia. The exposure will continue until you no longer fear the insect.

But this therapy first begins by talking about your phobia. In this stage, one might also be shown pictures or videos of insects. This will also involve explaining about the insects and how they cannot harm you and so on.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

This therapy focuses on centering your thoughts about your phobia and how they influence you. 

This therapy mainly focuses on changing your thoughts and reactions to your phobia. This also involves identifying and reducing the triggering factors that cause the phobia. 

This therapy could also be combined with exposure therapy that we discussed above. The ultimate goal of CBT is to control your thoughts until you’re no longer overwhelmed by the source of the phobia. 

Medication

Psychotherapy is the most effective way of overcoming Entomophobia. Your doctor may recommend specific medications to reduce your anxiety and other Entomophobia symptoms depending on your level of phobia. Some of the drugs you’ll be prescribed are as follows.

  • Anxiety Drugs – This drug is prescribed to reduce the anxiety caused by Entomophobia and is only recommended for short-use. 
  • Beta-Blockers – This drug is prescribed to block the effects of adrenaline. Adrenaline effects include increased heart rate and blood pressure, heart palpitations, and shaking
  • Antidepressants – This drug is also prescribed to reduce anxiety and fear related to the phobia. 

However, it’s important to remember that the above-mentioned rugs are not FDA-approved for the treatment of phobias.

To end on a note of clarification, let’s address the next question which many tend to have about Entomophobia and get wrong… 

What is the fear of bugs crawling on you?

The fear of bugs crawling on you is known as Acrophobia. Some tend to combine Entomophobia and Acrophobia together. But, the specific feeling of a bug crawling on you or the fear of itching on the skin because of insects is the proper form of acrophobia.

Acrophobia leads to the belief that the skin is infested with insects and can lead to self-mutilation for eliminating the infestation.  This also includes an abnormal fear of small particles like tiny bugs and mites crawling and its related itching. In contrast, Entomophobia is the fear of insects in general, even the thought of it.

So, with gradual but steady exposure to insects and other methods you can overcome this phobia. 

So finally…

We hope this has been useful in understanding the types – those mainly being Entomophobia, as well as the slightly different Acrophobia. The symptoms, the potential cures and just knowing what is actually making you feel like you do near insects and bugs – but possibly the most important factor which is that you’re certainly not alone.

Resources

For those wanting to rid themselves of this fear entirely, and possibly others, then there’s a popular book available to help you do this in just 5 minutes!

It might make a perfect gift to a friend or family member suffering from this fear. If you cannot find it locally then here’s a link to it on amazon, Five Minute Phobia Cure.

Again, we’d really like to hear about your experience with Entomophobia! Let us know in the comments below!

Michael

A Certified Ecologist and an Entomologist, Michael has been interested in all aspects of Nature for many years. It's only now he's decided, along with his partner Fran, to begin documenting what he knows.

Recent Posts