Halloween brings with it creepy crawly, scary creatures! People decorate their homes with store-bought cobwebs, fake spiders, rubber snakes and plastic cockroaches. Even these harmless substitutes can make the faint of heart squeamish, let alone the real thing! Why are some people so afraid of spiders, bugs or snakes? Just as we stated that “bats aren’t all bad” in a previous article, these creepy crawlers aren’t all bad either.
First off, let’s talk about the fear of spiders – arachnophobia. For many, the idea of walking through a cobweb causes goose bumps to appear. Where there’s cobwebs, there’s spiders…and one could possibly be crawling on you after you walk through its web! Yikes! Spiders want no more to do with you than you do with them. If threatened, they may bite you in defense, but more often than that, they will try to escape to a protected place. There is a group of spiders that you should steer clear of in Florida - They are the Widows. If these spiders were to bite you, depending on your overall health and sensitivity to their venom, you could become significantly ill. Most often, people think of the notorious Brown Recluse as a possible threat, but cases of this spider being an issue in Florida are usually due to people bringing recluse spiders back from out of state travel.
If spiders aren’t an issue with you, what about snakes? The fear of snakes is referred to as ophidiophobia (or ophiophobia). Maybe this fear is due to a snake’s beady eyes, its shiny scales or flickering tongue? Although these characteristics don’t make the snake an ideal “snuggle buddy” like a cat or dog, we shouldn’t hold this against them. Snakes assist in insect, amphibian, reptile, bird and rodent control. Without snakes, populations of rodents, for example, in an area could explode. There are even snakes, such as the Indigo and Kingsnake, that control other snakes (including the venomous ones).
Our last group for discussion is of the six-legged variety, the insects. The fear of insects in general is entomophobia. There are even names assigned for the fear of specific insects! For example, katsaridaphobia is the fear of cockroaches. There are a few species of cockroaches that can live in our climate-controlled homes and wreak havoc (the German cockroach is a good example), but most of the roaches we see would rather be outside. They don’t want to be in your home any more than you want them there. These outdoor roaches are beneficial in the wild as they help to break down organic material. Think of them as nature’s recyclers, rather than the creepy thing you find crawling on your bedroom wall at night.
Hopefully, if you suffered from arachnophobia, ophidiophobia or entomophobia before reading this article, you feel a bit more at ease about these stereotyped bad guys. Sure, there are spiders, snakes and insects you should avoid for health reasons, but they are the minority. The majority are beneficial in their natural environment and aren’t as spooky or creepy as people think.