Entomophobia is a fear of insects. People with this specific phobia feel anxious when they think about or see an insect. Many people with insect phobia have had traumatic experiences with insects. You can overcome a phobia of insects with several therapy options, including exposure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and hypnotherapy.
People with entomophobia have a fear of insects. Someone with entomophobia may have extreme anxiety or fear when seeing or thinking about insects. They may avoid walking or exercising outside and may stay away from outdoor events. Some people may stop leaving their house to reduce their chances of seeing insects.
Entomophobia is also known by other names. You might hear this phobia called:
Phobias are a type of anxiety disorder. They involve an overwhelming fear of an object, event or situation. The fear is out of proportion to the likely real-life harm from an event or situation. There are hundreds of specific phobia disorders like entomophobia. In entomophobia, a particular object (insects) leads to a fearful reaction.
It’s hard to know exactly how many people have a specific phobia like entomophobia. Many people may keep this fear to themselves or may not recognize they have it. We do know that about 1 in 10 American adults and 1 in 5 teenagers will deal with a specific phobia disorder at some point in their lives.
Someone with entomophobia may be afraid of:
You’re more likely to develop entomophobia or a different type of specific phobia disorder if you already have:
Other phobias linked to entomophobia include:
Possible causes of entomophobia include:
Anything related to insects may bring on entomophobia. Entomophobia triggers include seeing or thinking about insects:
Entomophobia symptoms can range from mild to extreme. The most common symptom is extreme anxiety when you think about insects or see them. Other emotional symptoms include:
People may also experience physical symptoms such as severe itchiness or a crawling sensation on their body. Other symptoms include:
If entomophobia affects your life, your healthcare provider may suggest that you see a mental health professional like a psychologist. The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) doesn’t recognize entomophobia as a phobic disorder. But a psychologist may diagnose you after asking about your symptoms.
You may have a specific phobic disorder if the fear of insects:
Exposure therapy is one of the main treatments for entomophobia. During exposure therapy, a mental health professional introduces you to situations and images that may trigger your symptoms. They gradually help you manage your response. Most people with specific phobias see their symptoms improve after getting this type of psychotherapy (talk therapy).
During exposure therapy, your provider helps you:
Other techniques to overcome entomophobia include:
Severe entomophobia can have a huge impact on your day-to-day life. You may not want to walk outside, meet friends in a park or take your kids to a playground. Just thinking about seeing an insect when you leave your house can cause extreme anxiety. You may decide to stop going out of your house at all.
Some people with entomophobia have panic attacks. These attacks can lead to a racing heart rate and noncardiac chest pain or heart attack symptoms. Uncontrolled panic attacks and constant worry can lead to a panic disorder.
You should call your healthcare provider if you have:
You may want to ask your healthcare provider:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Specific phobias like entomophobia can impact your quality of life. You may avoid outdoor activities and events or spend less time with family and friends. Healthcare providers can help you overcome your anxiety about insects. Talk to your provider about treatments like exposure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, hypnotherapy or medications. These treatments can help you feel better about coming across insects in your daily life.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/22/2022.
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