Fear of Bugs

After just being accosted by a spider and had the life scared out of me, I began to wonder exactly why I fear bugs.

I have a serious fear of bugs, but I can’t recall an actual bad experience with them, at least on the scale of Jimmy Stewart’s experience to make him fear heights in Vertigo.

I know a lot of people who have this fear, and a lot of people who don’t (these people usually like to torment me).

My question is, how can we grow to fear something that hasn’t hurt us? I mean, I can recall being completely scared of bugs for as long as I can remember, and my parents deny I was ever attacked by a spider within inches of my life. Bugs are the most widespread fear (I think I read that somewhere). Why?

Interesting question! I wonder if people had this same fear before we were all exposed to the enlarged photographs of bugs, that reveal just how ugly they are.

I think it’s mostly “civilized” people who are afraid of bugs. You know, people who don’t eat them.

Work like you don’t need the money…
Love like you’ve never been hurt…
Dance like nobody’s watching! Source???

      • Say Travis, there’s a local creek that during the summer, if you walk into the water, big green leeches jump off the plants around the edge and start swimming serpentine just below the surface towards you! -Not exactly like in the X-Files movie, but pretty damn close!-

-Just thought you’d like to know- ;>) - MC

MC, that was absolutely cruel.

Actually the most widespread fear is of public speaking (ahead even of death). As Jerry Seinfeld noted, “this means that at a funeral, most people would rather be in the coffin than giving the eulogy.”

Just a friendly warning: Cecil has been known to be unmercifully cruel to people who present alleged facts that they read “somewhere.” You’re probably safe in here, though…Cecil has never to my knowledge posted anything in here and probably doesn’t ever look at the General Questions board.

Live a Lush Life
Da Chef

I used to have the same phobia, Travis, until I worked for an entomologist for a few years and found out how cool the little buggers actually are.

I think most psychologists would agree that it’s not so much what the catalyst for the fear is (bugs, snakes, airflight, Tammy Faye Bakker) but more fear of the unknown in general (and, by extension, the uncontrollable).

Bugs crawl and can look pretty scary to a little kid, so even though you’ve never had a directly harmful experience with insects or arachnids (bee sting, spider bite, Tammy Faye tarantula-eyelash whipping) you probably have some subconscious memories of creepy-crawly things a’comin’ at ya!

Now, what scares me is that you’ve chosen one of filmdom’s biggest psychos this side of Norman Bates as your screen name. I hope Jodie Foster isn’t a Straight Doper.


Yeah, now I remember. I guess it must have been the biggest animal fears I was reading about. Yeeeeah, that’s the ticket. Actually, now that I think about it, one should be wary of a widespread fear statistic anyways, because, from my experience, people who fear bugs like to keep things quiet to have as little a chance as possible for sick friends to find out.


I guess you’re right about the uncontrollable. But I’m generally a huge animal lover and a kinda outdoorsy guy. I guess it’s just always struck me as weird that I’m deathly afraid of bugs.

And another thing, why are women usually thought to be more afraid of these things? I actually have memories of my mother being the only one in the house who would kill the spiders. Dad and I would always stand outside the door and wait for the death rattle (from the bug or from her, both just as likely to us).

Travis Bickle was my third choice behind Alex DeLarge and Keyser Soze. If I were the Farrelly brothers (of MTV Movie Awards fame), I’d make a tasteless joke about how this marks me as a violent individual, and local schools (and movie stars turned presidents) better watch out. But no.

Fear of bugs and spiders is a perfectly normal and rational behaviour. Bugs is creepy and crawly and icky, with way too many legs. Also, bugs tend to be right-wing (ahem) fanatics who hang out in Montana with assault rifles.

Butterflies usually aren’t counted as bugs by people with a fear thereof, ‘cause they’re nice looking and pretty and all. It’s the yuchy disgustin’ bugs we hate and fear, like cockroaches, spiders, and Serbian Prime Ministers.

I have a strong pseudo-phobia of bugs; they don’t elicit fear in me, as much as violent loathing, and the need to be away from them as quickly as possible. (Splitting hairs maybe, but it feels more like nausia than fear) And it doesn’t affect me so long as I think of them as little specks. I can have bugs crawling all over me, and I’m fine, so long as I don’t look too closely or think about what they would look like if I did.
And I think butterflies are the most repulsive of them all! They look pretty enough from a distance, and you’re tempted to let one of the nasty things last on you. But then when you look closely, they’re just roaches in fine clothes! If you removed their wings, they’d be more repulsive than any of them.
So it isn’t the bugs in general; it’s the details.

  • Around where I am you can occasionally find praying mantises that measure 7-8 inches long (they do nothing objectionable except maybe eat other bugs). They seem more intelligent, because when you get close to them they turn their heads towards you and “follow” your movements - if you try to slowly touch them they will {calmly} step out of the way, but just far enough to be out of reach of your hand. If they have compound eyes, then why do they turn their heads and look “at” you? - MC

Picking at nits: quadell what you have is a quasi-phobia more than a psuedo-phobia

MC, I would imagine that since praying mantises are predators (of bugs and such) they don’t have compound eyes, and have forward looking eyes to determine depth just as mammal predators, like you and me. They therfore are capable of telling how far they need to move to get out of your way, unlike other bugs who can only run like the dickens and hope its away from you.

The facts expressed here belong to everybody, the opinions to me. The distinction is
yours to draw…

Omniscient; BAG

Which is somehow appropriate for this thread…

Actually, and I have no idea why, Praying Mantises are the only bugs I’m not afraid of (other than houseflies and such). Must be all those years of watching 'em have dirty, dirty sex.

I nominate Tom’s “Tammy Faye tarantula-eyelash whipping” as “Most Heinous Visual” for the month of June.