What Makes Us So Naturally Afraid of Bugs?

woman curled up in chair, looking scared


Whether you’re extremely afraid of bugs or only slightly, you might wonder if it’s normal (or even natural) to feel the way you do. The short answer is yes, to some extent, it’s natural to be afraid of bugs. 

But why do we have a fear of bugs and why does it feel so ingrained in us? 

The Fear of Bugs

The fear of insects, like roaches, wasps, and ants, is called entomophobia. The fear of arachnids, like spiders, is called arachnophobia. In this article, we’ll be discussing the fear of both of these kinds of arthropods.

Why People Are Afraid of Bugs

There are two main reasons why people are afraid of bugs: instinct and conditioning.

Evolutionary/Primordial Instinct

In school, you probably learned about something called “survival of the fittest,” a theory which suggests that creatures that are better equipped to survive are more likely to continue evolving over long periods of time. Evidence suggests that humans who are afraid of bugs had ancestors who also had this fear, survived, and passed on this instinctual fear from generation to generation.

If you have a fear of bugs, it could be a primordial instinct passed down to you from your earliest ancestors who were driven to protect themselves from any harm or threats of harm from insects and arachnids. 


Similar to an instinctual fear of bugs that’s passed down, repeated responses to the presence of bugs can condition you to either love or fear them—and/or continually trigger your fight or flight response.

For instance, if your parents taught you to like bugs, you will likely be conditioned to feel more at ease around them. However, if your parents aren’t fond of bugs, you’re more likely to develop a fear or disgust of bugs.

Rational vs. Irrational Entomophobia

There’s a difference between an innate sense of caution or unease in the sudden or unexpected presence of bugs and a crippling fear: the former is what many mental health experts call a rational fear, the latter an irrational fear. 

An irrational fear of bugs is not healthy, but neither is a rational fear taken too far. Scholarly research suggests that reading misinformation online about phobias (especially biophobias, like entomophobia) can lead to irrational, anxiety-inducing obsessions and can even cause your fear to worsen.

Got Bug Problems? We Can Help Solve Them.

If you’ve got a bug or pest problem in your home, don’t worry—our experts will be glad to come in and take care of it for you.

At Vulcan Termite and Pest Control, we have proudly served families in Alabama since 1965, and we would love to help yours, too! Call us at 205-663-4200 or contact us online today to learn more about our affordable, effective pest control solutions.

To learn more about pests in Alabama and how to prevent them, check out our pest blog!