Entomophobia: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Risk Factors and Complications

Also known as insectophobia, it is the irrational and persistent fear of insects.

It is a specific phobia that is related to apiphobia, the fear of bees and myrmecophobia, the fear of ants.

Generally, patients are afraid of a specific type of insect and will avoid situations in which they may encounter that type of insect.

Worries about disease-carrying insects are totally normal, but the phobia is diagnosed according to the degree of symptoms.

The name is derived from the Greek word ‘entomon’, from the neutral form of ‘entomos’, which means ‘to cut in two’ (referring to the segments of the insect’s body). The word ‘phobia’ comes from the Greek word ‘phóbos’ which means ‘fear’. Therefore, entomophobia refers to the irrational fear of any kind of insects and critters.

This fear arises in a person when he is in contact with insects. Insects can cause irritation in some people because of their shape, color, and also because they spread many diseases.

This fear when it grows in a person, makes his life very uncomfortable.

The patient of entomophobia or fear of insects may choose not even to leave the house with the fear of noticing any type of insect in his path.

Fear also gives birth to ” delusional parasitosis “, in which the patient begins to feel sensations such as pricks, itching, tingling on his skin and reacts to these sensations, but severely scratching himself and causing infections and injuries.

The OCD can also arise in the patient and hinders their mental and physical health.

Causes of entomophobia

There are many causes that can lead to entomophobia or fear of insects in a person. According to the categories, the causes are:

  • Environmental factors can cause entomophobia or fear of insects. The patient may feel that an insect is crawling on his body due to various skin irritations whose cause is not associated with insects, but due to static, pollen sediment and other allergy-producing substances in the pores or irritants among others.
  • Another cause of entomophobia or fear of insects is trauma and other medical conditions. If you have suffered a traumatic experience in your personal life due to the loss of someone or due to a divorce, the level of stress can develop this type of fear in the person.
  • Also poor mental health, mental retardation, anxiety problems, physical weakness due to hyperthyroidism, folate and thiamine deficiency, diseases such as syphilis, meningitis, cirrhosis and adrenaline insufficiency can generate this phobia.
  • When you are going through a phase of depression , you lose self-esteem and the individual begins to feel guilty. All contact with people is cut off and these actions can lead to entomophobia. Being schizophrenic is another important reason for developing the phobia.
  • Entomophobia often develops in older women and younger men, but it can happen to anyone and at any age.

Signs and symptoms

The symptoms are so common that you often don’t realize you are developing a phobia. The basic symptoms of any type of phobia are:

  • Panic if you are exposed to the object of fear or even thinking about the source of the fear.
  • Choose not to leave the house and adopt any type of method to avoid encountering the source of the phobia.
  • Feeling powerless about not being able to control the fear even after knowing that it is irrational.
  • Children start crying when they are in front of an insect.
  • Developing physical weaknesses such as not being able to breathe, sweat, and vomit.
  • Complaining constantly about insect bites.
  • Read about insects to believe that fear is rational.
  • Visiting doctors often for skin problems
  • Symptoms of the phobia continue for more than 6 months.

Diagnosis of entomophobia

There are no adequate tests to identify a specific phobia, doctors turn to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

The manual also suggests the type of treatments that can be applied to the patient. In therapy sessions you will be asked various questions and your reaction will be observed to determine the phobia.

The medical and psychological history of the patient and the family will assist physicians in the identification process.

The basic criteria that help diagnose entomophobia are:

  • The feeling of intense fear and irritation when the patient notices an insect or even sees an image of it and becomes frightened even at the thought of the insect.
  • Avoid all kinds of social activities that take place outdoors so that the patient can avoid any insects.

Entomophobia is often treated as a type of mental illness. Since this phobia is not very well documented in the phobia list, it is often not identified by doctors.

A long time goes by without the patient receiving adequate treatment. Therefore, the diagnosis of phobia is very important and multidisciplinary approaches must be taken.


There are certain therapeutic ways to treat fear along with prescription drugs to keep the patient calm and in control.

Often an entomologist is consulted during psychotherapy to help the patient understand that his fear is irrational.

Desensitization or exposure therapy to treat entomophobia helps overcome fear by exposing the patient to the object of fear.

For example, images of insects are shown so that the patient can work on their anxiety level and reduce it.

Slowly, when the patient begins to recognize that not all insects are harmful, he will be exposed to a garden where he can come into contact with all kinds of insects.

Another way to treat entomophobia is through the use of cognitive behavioral therapy , this helps the patient to learn that fear is irrational and that he can control fear. Also negative thoughts are changed to positive ones.

Medication cannot reduce entomophobia, but it will help control your physical anxieties that develop due to the phobia.

Antidepressants for entomophobia are called serotonin reuptake inhibitors which control mood and act as neurotransmitters in the brain. Antidepressants are prescribed based on the patient’s conditions.

Sedatives for entomophobia are those drugs that are also known as benzodiazepines and they help calm your nerves and make you less anxious.

But at the same time, care must be taken while taking these pills as they can lead to addiction and have adverse effects if taken with alcohol.

Beta blocker medications block the stimulating sensations that arise due to entomophobia. Medication also reduces the frequency of the heartbeat caused by anxiety.

Prevention of entomophobia

Once the person realizes that they are developing entomophobia they should consult a doctor. Allowing fear to grow will not only disrupt daily life but also the lives of family members.

Going through proper therapy at the beginning helps you avoid transmitting fear to children and family.

Risk factor’s

The various risk factors are:

  • A close relative such as a father, mother or brother who has entomophobia runs the risk of developing fear.
  • If a traumatic incident has been experienced in the past.
  • Specific phobias develop even at the age of 10, so the person becomes antisocial and cannot interact with people.

Complications of entomophobia

The patient suffering from entomophobia can have many complications, such as:

  • Avoid any kind of social interaction and think that people might laugh at him. This action can create a distance from your social circles and lead to loneliness.
  • A complication of entomophobia ranges from depression to the development of anxiety disorders.
  • Choosing options like drug abuse to cope with the stress caused by fear.


The time it takes to recover from entomophobia or fear of insects depends on the type of treatment or therapy you undergo.

The doctor will inform the patient, how long the treatment will last and if there are chances of reappearance of the phobia.