Fear of bugs involves an irrational fear of insects and bugs even when no bug infestations or bites occur. Many children, teens, and adults are afraid of insects of some type, and this is normal to be afraid, cringe, and perhaps run away when seeing bees, wasps, spiders, cockroaches, and mosquitos.
A phobia often involves a persistent effort to avoid insects at all costs by staying inside even when they are not present.
Often a fear of insects involves a high level of fear and anxiety. The fear of bugs becomes excessive when the person is afraid of skin infestations or parasites, which can lead to excessive cleaning and often is a sign of a deeper problem. Still, when the phobia makes it hard for children to function in everyday life, this is indeed a fear that must be dealt with.
Helping With the Fear of Bugs Early On
Parents and families can take young children to zoos, natural history museums, and nature centers that deal with bugs. For example, the Los Angles Natural History museum has a live insect exhibit. Here workers bring out insects and let children touch them, and it lowers their level of fear of bugs and puts them in a more positive light.
Laura Mendick, a psychiatrist at Boston’s Children’s Hospital, says that when fear of bugs interferes with a child’s life, who must address it. When a child screams if she sees a bug or refuses to play outside because of them, it often becomes a problem.
She tells parents that their reaction to bugs often helps or hurts their child. If you have a phobia of bugs, you can often pass this on to your child.
It’s important to teach children safety around bugs but not scare them, so they don’t want to go outside. What is the fear of bugs called? It is often called entomophobia, which means fear of insects and crawling creatures.
When dealing with kids with the fear of insects, praise the child when they can go outside and start looking at ants or other insects.
You can set up a behavioral chart where the child gets a sticker as a reward for coping well with the fear of bugs. One form of therapy used with children or teens who fear bugs is desensitization, which exposes the child to their fear over some time, so they get used to them.
It might start with showing a child a cartoon of a bug or picture in a book. After that, the child may be given a book about bugs to look at.
Who might show children in desensitization therapy a video about bugs, followed by a nature center or zoo visit? All these techniques are geared to make the child less afraid of the bugs. By exposing them to the anxiety-provoking situation, eventually makes them less afraid of the fear.
Symptoms and Treatments
The fear of insects leads to symptoms in children like heart palpations, dizziness, weak legs, sweating, dry throat, and feeling sick. Children often fear stinging insects like bees and wasps, which comes from experience or hearing about it.
Children with fear of bugs often feel like they want to escape from the room. The fear ranges from very mild to strong in children.
The causes of the fear of bugs are often not known. The most important thing to do is control it so the child does not become so fearful they do not want to go outside or limit activity. Desensitization therapy is a good way to help kids with the fear of bugs, and many doctors and hospitals can recommend programs for this treatment.
If a child has a fear of spiders, therapy often involves looking at black and white photos of spiders. The next step is to look at color photos in a book followed by a video. It is important to talk with your child about the fear and ask what scares them about spiders?
Another tactic is to put a dead spider in a glass jar to have the child look at it. It can be from a distance at first, then close up, according to Professor M. Mark, who wrote the book Phobias and Rituals. Finally, having a live spider in a jar that a child can look at close range is the goal of the therapy.
At times doctors and therapists may prescribe medications to help the child with anxiety and fear when performing this therapy. Fear of bees and wasps is often associated with being stung.
Therapy for this particular insect may involve looking at them from a closed window and going outside where they are looking at them from a distance. Fear of wasps and bees is harder to overcome due to the fear of being bit.
Parents should talk with their kids about what makes them afraid of insects when bees’ phobia is strong; discussing the feelings and fear helps with desensitization and cognitive therapy. Parents can read books to kids about insects in which they are afraid, and fiction or nonfiction gives them information and lets them know what’s working.
Also Read: Hemophobia or Fear of Blood
If your child’s fear is not very intense, you can do exercises yourself with the help of a friend or relative. Often patience is needed to tackle a fear of bugs phobia. It might be a good idea to talk with your general doctor about your child’s phobia before trying out any activities on your own. This is especially true where the fear factor is high.
Relaxation techniques can help children, like deep breathing, when dealing with the fear of insects. Often cognitive therapy is another method of treating fear, and this therapy focuses on learning to control thoughts and thinking differently about bugs. It might mean using some of the desensitization techniques along with changing thought patterns.
When seeing a doctor for a phobia or fear, the doctor will not use any diagnostic tests. They will ask questions and evaluate the child on medical, social, and psychiatric history. It will be based on the Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association. That is why a hospital or doctor can help recommend the right treatment in a case where the fear of bugs is severe.
Some forms of fear of bugs are part of serious psychiatric illnesses such as manic depression and schizophrenia. In these cases, patients believe the skin to be infested with bacteria, worms, and other insects. Most often, the patient is not infested but believes they are. This is an extreme form of the fear of insects and is not often found in many children or teens.