Why Do Humans Have a Fear of Bugs?

If you suffer from entomophilia—an irrational and excessive fear of bugs—you’re not alone! Very few people feel comfortable being around bugs, and most people are wary of creepy crawly insects, spiders especially. In fact, even some entomologists—scientists who study bugs-- suffer from an intense and irrational fear of spiders themselves, referred to as arachnophobia.

According to a US News article, at least 3.5% of adults in the United States experience arachnophobia, and even more fall prey to entomophilia. Apparently, if bugs bug you, this is perfectly normal! As exterminators, we have spent our lives being around bugs, and we clearly don’t have a problem with them! But, we understand people who do, and that is why we have dedicated our lives and careers to making people feel more comfortable and at peace in their homes. With that being said, the question we have always wondered is: why exactly are people scared of bugs? Are they born with this fear or is it something that they acquire throughout time?

We’re Conditioned to Fear Bugs

Have you noticed that as a species, we are fascinated by our fears? This is one of the reasons why numerous studies, papers, and books have been commissioned to determine why humans as a whole are so scared of tiny insects. Of course, the answer behind this isn’t surprising: most scientists and researchers agree that from the time we are born, we are conditioned to have a fear of bugs and spiders. Author Jeffrey Lockwood, writer of ‘The Infested Mind: Why Humans Fear, Loathe, and Love Insects’ says that although we are evolutionary primed to be extremely aware of insects in our proximity, what isn’t primed is our response. Instead, he says that how we respond to insects is a matter of cultural influence.

He says, “Culture overlays our evolutionary tendencies. You could think of our fear and disgust of insects of being as a conspiracy of evolution and culture. And that is the state of the human mind at this point in our history.” For example, he talks about urban and city-like environments and how we have started to associate insects like bed bugs and cockroaches with personal hygiene (or lack thereof). But, in rural settings, there are more appealinginsects like butterflies or ladybugs, and therefore he says our encounters aren’t always negative. The same can be said about other countries where eating insects is considered to be a delicacy. In other words, we are not only conditioned to fear bugs because of evolutionary tendencies, but also because of the cultural influence around us.

Survival of the Scaredest!

Although the emotions behind this phenomenon may not be based in logic—emotions rarely are—the premise behind these fears may also be based on natural selection. The concept of “survival of the fittest” would explain this phenomenon. Whoever is the most scared is the fittest. Apparently, those predisposed to avoiding contact with creepy crawlies would have greater evolutionary fitness. This explains why many humans also have a fear of snakes and other pests; we’ve been conditioned over time as a species to feel this way for the purposes of survival.

Sometimes Fear is Good

It’s apparent that humans are equipped with a healthy fear of bugs and spiders for a reason. These bugs were a threat to us as the species developed, and many of these bugs continue to be a threat to our health and safety today. We don’t want to coexist with these creatures because they can cause us harm, so it makes sense for us to want to avoid being around them in general.

If you’re one of those folks who aren’t fond of bugs, you’re in good company. Bugs can be disgusting (duh!), but they can also be a nuisance in your home. If you’ve got a bug problem that is making your skin crawl, Your Green Team can help. We understand that a pest infestation is one of the most unsettling feelings a person can have, and that is why we do what we do. If we can help make you feel more comfortable and secure in your own home, we’re doing our job right!

Learn more about how we can help get rid of what’s bugging you today!