Orthopterophobia: Let’s Jump Into This Fear
Orthopterophobia is a specific phobia that refers to an intense and irrational fear of grasshoppers, crickets, and other orthopteran insects.
We’ve all been in a basement or dark garage where we’ve moved something aside only to see crickets scatter left and right. For a split second, these crickets appear like spiders crawling off in all directions, enough to give you the creepy crawlies. To someone suffering from orthopterophobia, this can be a traumatic event.
Or perhaps you’re strolling through a field or maybe even your own backyard. Suddenly, like a swarm from a horror movie, grasshoppers launch from the grass.
These grasshoppers gather to mate and ensure their survival. The hot, dry conditions are perfect for these harmless insects to multiply. But for anyone suffering from orthopterophobia, a field of grasshoppers brings terror.
Potential Causes of Orthopterophobia
Like other specific phobias, orthopterophobia is believed to arise from a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors.
For some people, the fear may be rooted in a traumatic experience involving an orthopteran insect, such as being swarmed by grasshoppers or crickets.
For others the intense fear may have come from simply having a grasshopper land on your sleeve. Because of the insect’s ability to cling, it may have seemed as though they were attacking.
Still some may develop the fear through learned behavior, such as observing a parent or caregiver who was afraid of these insects.
Common Symptoms of Orthopterophobia
Orthopterophobia, or a fear of grasshoppers or crickets, has a range of both physiological and psychological symptoms.
- Intense fear or anxiety when exposed to grasshoppers or crickets, even if they are harmless or in a controlled environment.
- Rapid heartbeat, sweating, trembling, and other physical symptoms of anxiety.
- Avoidance behavior, such as refusing to go outside during the daytime or avoiding areas where grasshoppers or crickets are likely to be present.
- Difficulty functioning in everyday situations, such as work or social settings, due to the fear of encountering these insects.
Potential Treatment for Orthopterophobia
Some options for treating the intense fear of crickets and grasshoppers may involve various forms of professional therapy as well as self-help.
Some professional therapy options for orthopterophobia include:
- Exposure therapy
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Medication (under direct medical care)
Exposure therapy involves gradually exposing the individual to the feared object or situation in a controlled environment. The goal of this therapy is to reduce anxiety by desensitizing the person to the object of their fear. CBT is a form of talk therapy that helps people identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to their anxiety.
Medication may be used to manage extreme symptoms of anxiety. Some examples of these medications include beta-blockers or anti-anxiety medications.
A wide array of self-help options are available and helpful for mild cases of a fear of grasshoppers and crickets. Self-help is also recommended in conjunction with professional therapies to increase coping skills during therapy and further the success of treatment.
Some examples of self-help options include:
- Educate yourself on different types of insects including orthopteran insects.
- Watch films and videos of people handling grasshoppers.
- Have someone who is not afraid handle the insects near you, to show the harmlessness.
In many cases, orthopterophobia can be a serious debilitating condition that significantly impacts ones quality of life. However, with proper treatment and effort, many people with this fear are able to overcome their phobia and live without fear of these insects. After all, we share the world with 11,000 known species of grasshoppers alone. So, chances are you will come across this little jumper sometime in your life.