How to Get Over Your Fear of Bugs (and Your Kids’ Fear, Too)

When I was eleven years old, my family moved from a big city in Texas to a small farm in Tennessee…talk about a wake-up call!  As a ‘city kid,’ I had no idea about growing your own food, farm animals, and beneficial insects.  I thought ALL insects were like mosquitos and needed to be eradicated!  But as the years went by I learned that bees and wasps would only sting if bothered by their human counterparts and that there was a method to turning over logs/rocks (toward yourself), so that the snakes could slither away.   Sounds creepy, right?  These lessons helped me get over my fear of bugs and other creatures which were common on our farm.

A lot of people aren’t huge fans of bugs, but for some, the dislike turns into actual fear. The fear might make it difficult for you to even get outside and enjoy a hike or work in the garden because you worry about the bugs you might encounter.  Getting over your fear of bugs (and your kid’s) is a journey…

Why the Fear?

Bugs are some of the things that top the lists of peoples’ fears. While some do have the potential to be dangerous, most are harmless, and some are even beneficial. Most of the time, it’s the look of the bugs that cause people to fear and hate them. As mentioned, there are some dangerous bugs, such as venomous spiders that bite people on occasion. However, by and large, most bugs are either harmless or helpful to people.

A general phobia of insects is known as entomophobia. It’s real, but it is relatively rare. Most people who are afraid of bugs tend not to understand them or have an aversion to the way they look—the “disgust response”.  Check out this article from Discovery Magazine for even more details.

Getting Over the Fear

Those who are afraid of bugs don’t have to live their lives in fear, though. You can confront your fears, though, and the tips below can help.

Accept the Fear

Before you can overcome a problem, you must accept that there is a problem in the first place. A lot of people try to brush off their fear of bugs and pretend that it doesn’t exist. This might be possible for some people who don’t suffer from a true phobia. However, even if you aren’t phobic, those fears are going to continue until you confront them.

Try to understand your fear and get a sense of what made you afraid of bugs. What is it about them that makes you feel fear and revulsion? Understanding the fear can often help you understand the root of the issue. This can make it easier to address.

Learn About Bugs

One of the other reasons that people are afraid of bugs is that they feel everything is “gross” or “dangerous”. This tends to stem from a lack of knowledge. Perhaps the best thing you can do to help overcome your feelings toward bugs is to learn more about them. Learn to identify them. Learn their names and their roles in the environment. Watch videos and read books. The more you know, the less you will fear.

Get a Bug

As Joey from Friends once said, “You have a fear of heights, you go to the top of the building. You’re afraid of bugs… get a bug.” While this might seem oversimplified, there is some truth to it, and it can work for some people. It’s called exposure therapy. You can start slowly with bugs you don’t mind as much. Then work your way toward overcoming, or at least reducing, your fear of bugs.

Talk with a Therapist

If you are still concerned about your fears and you worry that it’s keeping you out of the garden and that it’s causing other issues in your life, talk with a therapist. They can often help you get to the root of the problem, so you can better understand your fear and how best to face it.

Some Bugs Are Good for the Garden

Did you know that a lot of bugs—and some other creatures that get tossed into the creepy-crawly category—can be beneficial to the garden? There are both good and bad bugs, and you must have a good understanding of the differences between them.

For example, no one wants aphids in their garden. They are one of the “bad bugs” that feed on your plants. However, aphid midges will prey on aphids, so they should be encouraged to make a home in your garden. Another insect that loves to devour aphids is the ladybug.

To learn more about these differences and how to bring them into your garden, you should check out our blog on 12 Beneficial Insects to Control Pests and the benefits of farming without the use of pesticides.

Kids Follow Your Lead

Are your kids afraid of bugs? If they are, it’s a good chance it’s because you or another important figure in their lives is scared and has demonstrated that fear in front of the kids.

After all, kids learn from watching those around them. You don’t want to instill your kids with fear, especially of things that can’t hurt them like so many of those little bugs in the garden. If you shriek at the sight of a ladybug, your kids probably will, too.

However, some kids seem to develop this fear on their own. Regardless of what makes them afraid, you want to let them know that you are there to protect them and that you will help them to get over their fear.

Talk with them about what scares them, and don’t make them “face their fear” in a way that could traumatize them. Take it slow and start by learning more about things like butterflies, fireflies, and ladybugs. Then, introduce those insects to them if they are in your area. A slow approach, coupled with learning about the bugs, is going to help immensely!

Take the Kids on a Scavenger Hunt

If you want to help your kids learn more and ensure they don’t grow up with a fear of bugs, check out our Kid’s Bug Scavenger Hunt. It will take place on Saturday, April 30 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the farm.

This scavenger hunt is going to be a fantastic way for the kids to learn more about the ecosystem and the important roles that bugs play in nature. The hunt, led by Cori Williams, will take them from the barn across the creek and over several acres of the farm.

Kids will have a great time getting outside, exploring the world, and learning more about bugs. They will see that even though they might look different and have more legs and large eyes, they are valuable and interesting. Learning, for both kids and adults, tends to be one of the best ways to get rid of fear.