Real Fear of Bugs
November 7, 2009
I am taking a General Biology II course at a university and part of our grade includes presenting an insect collection. I cannot understand why we even have to do it for many reasons. First, we have to go out and find and kill 35 species, from at least 10 different orders, and key out 17 different families. This is not an entomology course whatsoever, just a biology class that entails the study of evolution, and the different Domains and Kingdoms. Only 2 days out of a semester were even discussed about insects.
Can someone please tell me how anyone can stand insects and bugs? Or am I missing out on something here? I am scared of “bugs” in general because I have had too many frightening encounters with them crawling on me and yes, biting me. I’ve always told my husband that when I die, to please cremate me just because I hate bugs and do not want them around me even when I am dead.
So the Insect Collection, to me, is a waste of my time since I am killing what some believe are just co-habitants of our world; and, because after 10 weeks, I still don’t like them. I guess this is supposed to teach me to appreciate them, but the more photos I see of insects during my countless hours of trying to identify and classify them, the more I fear them. Perhaps I was killed by insects in my previous life, I don’t know. I just don’t get it.
And I know you’ll hate me for mentioning this part, but the one thing that I have learned from my project is how to kill them. Otherwise, what do you suggest for someone like me to truly overcome the fear of them? Are there any bugs that you do suggest killing? To me, it’s fair game, if a bug is inside my house, it’s a dead bug. I certainly hope that statement won’t “come back to bite me.”
Just Don’t Like Them
Southern Nevada



Dear Just Don’t Like Them,
We doubt that we would have any more luck trying to convince you of the virtues of insects than we did last night trying to convince our coworker Sharon the Speech instructor of the value and savoriness of eggplant as a culinary ingredient.  Sharon dislikes eggplant and you dislike insects, period.  As to the merits of the insect collection in your biology class, we hesitate to question the academic freedom of a fellow educator.  We can say that it is far easier to teach taxonomy through an insect collection than through a bird collection.  We do not hate you for your comment about killing, and we doubt that this activity will continue once the semester is completed.  We don’t know how to help you overcome your fear, and we do not think your phobia warrants psychiatric attention provided it does not seriously affect your ability to function, which clearly by your letter it does not.  In the end, while you may never develop any love for the insect kingdom, and while your fear may never dissipate, we hope that at least you will appreciate the necessary niche that insects fill in the subtle balance of the web of life on our planet.  Good luck with your class and your collection.  We suspect that you are probably at the top of your class when it comes to assessing the performance rates of your fellow students.

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