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What Is the Fear of Butterflies and Moths?

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Updated October 29, 2012

Question: What Is the Fear of Butterflies and Moths?

Butterflies, and to a lesser extent moths, are generally considered cute and harmless creatures. Most zoos and many science museums have walk-through exhibits where visitors can get close to hundreds of brilliantly colored butterflies. Yet lepidopterophobia, or the fear of butterflies and moths, is a relatively common phobia. Even actress Nicole Kidman claims to have this fear. A website and affiliated Facebook community, ihatebutterflies.com, boasts more than 1800 members.

Answer:

Fluttering

Many people with a butterfly or moth phobia report that they are afraid of the creatures' constant fluttering. Some fear the sensation of a fluttering butterfly flying in their faces or brushing against their arms, while others are uncomfortable with how they look when traveling through the air.

Flying

Some people claim to be afraid of not only butterflies and moths but birds as well. They may fear the flying behavior or worry that a flying creature will land on them. Some are afraid only of smaller birds that rapidly flap their wings, such as hummingbirds, but are unafraid of larger birds that flap more slowly.

Swarming

Both butterflies and moths are social creatures, and they often travel in groups. Some people who fear them are less afraid of a single butterfly or moth than they are of a large group. Swarming, in which many butterflies or moths fly in close formation, may be a particular trigger. People whose fear is specifically of swarming are often afraid even when the insects are at rest, as they often rest in groups.

Source:

American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th Ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

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