General Question

electricsky's avatar

Why are we so scared of bugs?

Asked by electricsky (825points) May 8th, 2009

I don’t mean that in a “who the hell would be scared of a bug?” type of way, since I am completely phobic of cockroaches, terrified of junebugs and freaked out by spiders, but what is it that makes us so scared of these little tiny creatures? I was wondering this today, since now that we have our windows open there’s a billion of the little fuckers wonderful beings wandering around my house, and while I was doing dishes some random bug landed on my hand and I screamed like crazy and thrashed around like I was having a seizure, and then I wondered, why? What exactly is so scary about them?

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27 Answers

FrankHebusSmith's avatar

Supposedly it has something to do with our ancestors living in trees and whatnot and encountering deadly/dangerous bugs. That and we naturally fear that which is different, and bugs are about as far from like us as you get in land living creatures.

LKidKyle1985's avatar

hmmm thats kind of a long shot, maybe its just cause they are creepy looking and come out of no where and they can crawl in your nose and mouth and bite you and leave nasty marks. I don’t buy the monkey theory.

goose756's avatar

I think the main reason is just because they are small and sometimes you don’t really know where they went, if they’re on you, or in your bed, etc. Also just because they are so weird-looking that you automatically associate them with something negative. The fact that some bite you can also be a factor, and can be associated with every type of bug even though it may only pertain to a few.

Judi's avatar

For me I think it’s because I can’t see their eyes. How else am I supposed to read their intent!

Supacase's avatar

They are just weird. I mean, they sneak in with no apparent purpose and linger around. What are they doing? Why are they here? GTFO and leave me alone already! I can really flip the hell out over anything with more than 8 legs. Why do things so small need so many damn legs?

Ok, I apparently can’t even talk about them rationally.

If my daughter is around I pretend to be freaking Braveheart, though. That child is deathly scared of bugs and it drives me crazy so I try to convince her they are fine.

Jayne's avatar

@Judi- somehow I don’t think that seeing a spider’s eyes is going to reassure me too much.

The thing that gets me about bugs is their speed. The damn things just move so fast, and anything that can move faster than oneself puts one on edge. That, combined with the fact that their size allows them to appear very suddenly, very close to you, causes them to seem like more of a threat than they are, at least for me. For instance, I might consider petting a spider on its back, but never anywhere else, because I know that little shit could be up on my hand before I could blink.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

We learn our fears from our parents and other care givers. I’ve seen small children play with bugs, happy as can be, until Mommy screams that it is icky or whatever, and then the kid learns to fear it.

I have made it my unofficial duty to help people overcome their fear of spiders and other bugs, simply because they are not the things we should be scared of. I used to be scared of spiders, but not anymore, thanks to a friend who taught me the truth about them. I want to pass on his knowledge and do for others what he did for me. The fact of the matter is, of the 30,000 species of spiders in North America, only four are dangerous enough to make you sick. None are deadly to the average human being. Spiders are wonderfully fascinating creatures, and I think they are worthy of study and respect.

I also raise Madagascar Hissing Roaches, and I love to share my fascination with these creatures with anyone that will listen, and isn’t afraid to learn new things. You don’t have to be frightened of bugs, you can learn exactly how harmless they really are, and even learn to enjoy them as fellow creatures on this planet. A six week old kitten is more dangeorus than an entire colony of Hissers.

Many of the stories you’ve heard about spiders are false, and if anyone who has a bug phobia wants to PM me, I would be happy to help you overcome your fear of bugs in general. It is silly to be scared of bugs. The real threat to you and yours aren’t insects, it’s other people.

AstroChuck's avatar

Spiders and insects don’t scare me (with the possible exception of scorpions). Snakes are what do it for me.

Dog's avatar

I agree with @Jayne – they are too fast.

Spiders freak me out because they bite and are fast and sneaky. The rest are fine.

Aethelwine's avatar

Every year I see a bug that I have never seen before. While I was working in the garden today, I found a bug that was florescent green with 8 red dots on it. I have never seen anything like it before. It was fascinating yet terrifying at the same time. I get creeped out about the little buggers if I don’t know much about them.

Mtl_zack's avatar

duh duh duhhhhhhh

augustlan's avatar

Some bugs creep me out, and some startle me, but what scares the shit out of me are silverfish, centipedes and the like. Too fast! Too many legs! Ugh!

classyfied's avatar

For me, it’s the way they look. For example, ants don’t scare me because they’re so small that I can’t really see their features. But when I see photos of ants close up it really freaks me out.

loser's avatar

Because they run around really fast and bite people. I don’t run around really fast and bite them!

electricsky's avatar

Oh! I forgot to mention this in my question… the other day, I was sitting at my desk and a little, bright red spider crawled across it. My first thought? OhmygodDEMONSPIDER.
Creepy little thing. Totally, neon red.

casheroo's avatar

First off, most fly, they bite, they feel creepy as fuck when crawling on you, some are slimy…they crawl into various orifices. They like to buzz around your ears, tormenting you (at least the bugs we get in my apartment)
I’ve noticed I’m setting an example for my son though, which concerns me. He is with me the most and is developing the same fears as me.
esterday, while at an enclosed duck pond, a rogue duck made a break for it, then another came out and started attacking the first one. Then they simply started walking towards us and I freaked out (huge fear of birds pecking me..I’ve been bit before) My son then got super scared and ran away with me. I guess I have to pretend I’m not scared of things, so he doesn’t become girly like me haha

sdeutsch's avatar

My biggest problem with bugs is that they appear in places you don’t expect them. They freak me out about as much as a person appearing behind me when I didn’t know they were there. It’s just that once you know the person is there, they don’t disappear again, whereas the bug will scurry away and then appear somewhere else and scare you again.

Most bugs I’m okay with catching them and taking them outside (after the initial freak out that there’s something unexpectedly crawling up the wall), but anything with more legs than a spider is my husband’s problem – they’re just too creepy!

dynamicduo's avatar

We aren’t scared of bugs. You and most people are. I am not afraid of bugs, it’s irrational to be scared of them, they can’t do you any harm.

Evolutionarily speaking, I can see how an apprehension of bugs would be beneficial, as some bugs are in fact dangerous or diseased, especially going back to a time where we didn’t have shoes or houses to keep the bugs away from us.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

First off, what many people claim are spiders bites in fact aren’t spider bites at all. Could be centipede bites, mosquito bites, bacterial infection, rash, etc. Unless you see a spider actually bite you, there is no way to tell a spider bite by just looking at it. Spiders rarely bite people, as we are not food, spiders are rarely that aggressive, we are too large for them to comprehend, and should a spider bite you, which is very rare, the venom is much too weak to do anything except create a welt. 80% of Brown Recluse bites do NOT require medical treatment. The average person can NOT tell a Brown Recluse just by looking at it. Hell, even I can’t and I make it a point to study spiders. I’ve seen a lot of brown spiders in my life, but I am pretty sure none were the much feared BR. They just aren’t that common here in the North.

Second, spiders you find indoors have evolved to live indoors. Taking them outside is a sure death sentence. Outdoor spiders only get indoors by being on something we bring in from outside. Outdoor spiders have no reason to come indoors, not even in the fall.

Third, while the bug you saw on your desk might have looked like a bright red spider, more than likely it was a mite. There are types of mites you find on indoor plants that look like tiny spiders but in fact are not.

And lastly, Much lurve to dynamicduo for having the sense to realize that insects are the least of our worries. Bugs can’t hurt you, unless you live in the tropics or somewhere in the southern hemisphere where dangerous insects and spiders thrive.

Judi's avatar

I had to stop reading the thread because just hearing about them is creeping me out.

Triiiple's avatar

Deathly afraid of roaches, i dont know why.

In FL and NYC ive been subject to big ass flying roach attacks!

MissAusten's avatar

I’m not scared of bugs, if by bugs you mean “insects.” Most other creepie-crawlies are interesting to me too. Spiders, however, do creep me out. I had a series of nightmares about giant spiders when I was a kid, and for a long time I couldn’t stand to even see spiders on TV. Since I’ve had kids though, I’ve tried really hard to get past it so I don’t pass that fear on—I do know that it’s pretty irrational. Now I am perfectly OK with spiders if they don’t surprise me or touch me.

In fact, there’s a large wolf spider in my freezer right now. There’s also a cabbage butterfly in there too. My five year old son has been obsessed with bugs since he was three. His past Halloween costumes have even been bugs—the earwig was my favorite! This year my son decided he wanted an insect collection like we’ve seen in museums. I got him a great starter set for collecting and pinning insects. He also wants to collect spiders, which have to be preserved in alcohol. It’s a really fascinating hobby, and is teaching him a lot about patience. The more time we spend finding and researching insects, the more interesting they become. My other two kids like to find bugs too, so the collection has become a family project. Even my husband, who really isn’t into the natural world at all, helps out. He saw a crazy looking spider in his studio and brought it home. It had bright green fangs! We looked it up and read all about it, and I didn’t shudder once. :)

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@MissAusten that’s awesome. Your kids will thank you later for giving them the opportunity to learn about the natural world. PM me if you would like a link to a GREAT spider website.

mayadc's avatar

I have entomophobia which is fear of bugs. The main reason Im scared of them is because I love animals and got so used to being around them and being able to understand what their thinking. Its easy to understand what my cats are thinking, but when I come upon a bug, I cant see their eyes so I dont know if their looking at me or where they are trying to go. People always say their not gonna hurt you and I know that. Thats not why Im scared of them its because I dont know if their on me or in me or around me. It just freaks me out to touch one because some of them eat the most disgusting stuff. Also, their so much faster in proportion to humans.

mike18's avatar

Hi im really scared of bugs i get really paranoid at times like when im watching tv right i notice these really tiny black jumping bugs just leaping its really scary and im always getting this feeling like somthing moving threw my leg hair its really wierd im just wondering wat those little tiny black bugs that are just leaping on my tv its freaky lol thats my fear bugs i hate them im scared of em

augustlan's avatar

@mike18 Tiny black jumping bugs sounds like fleas, to me. Might want to check your pets.

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