Severe bug phobia...anyone???


Mom? What's a difficult child?
This is regarding N... She is only 3 but this has been getting worse. Her anxiety and Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) is really bad. We are trying to get her into a D-pediatrician, ASAP. Long wait list.

Anyway all of her issues are things I can read about here or in books etc. Even her ripping her skin to shreds has calmed down a bit...

The one that is getting worse and I asked an Occupational Therapist (OT) here at hospital yesterday, she runs the preemie program, and has worked with Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) and the psychiatric program as well.

So N is freaked out by bugs, animals anything that moves... NATURE!!! She shakes, screams, cries, regresses and basically looses her speech and becomes increasingly more infantile when in a situation where there is a bug, dog etc.
It sounds like she is being murdered if she sees a fly... if one lands on her... she runs screaming, "Mommy" shaking, hysterical.
Has anyone had a difficult child or been this bad about bugs... if a dog comes near her also. "It's gonna lick me!!!" She is scrambling to climb mine or husband's leg.

I feel so bad for her, it is heart breaking. Yet annoying, at times...Frustrating to say the least. Help
The Occupational Therapist (OT) had no ideas... she said she has never had a child like this??? She also said she would look into a psychiatric evaluation...

house of cards

New Member
My daughter isn't nearly that bad with bugs but when she was 2-3 yo she was really bad about grass. If I set her down on it she would literally try to climb up my leg while screaming. If she wanted something that would require her to walk on grass, she would do without. I never got it for her. Eventually she would walk out, get it and run back to my side. But grass was easier to deal with then what you have because it doesn't chase you. Maybe you could try getting one of those bug catching kits for kids and see if she would approach a caught bug at her own pace??
Anyway my daughter still has some fears that are a little over the top but not too bad. She has improved alot. I hope your daughter will as well.


Well-Known Member
So, it is not scaled down to things with wings, or germs, or fur? It is not that specific?

Just all moving things except people?

My nephew freaked everytime he saw a Surf commercial (some laundry detergent). We never knew why.



Mom? What's a difficult child?
K had the grass thing when she was little. That was easy to deal with. K also has some issues with germs.

But N is on a whole other level... we have 2 bug catchers. She will help K catch them. But if they can get near her, forget it. We have one dog in the neighborhood that we can get near her. Even our cats cause her to get weird... she is OK with them, but they can't crawl on her or put their paws on her. She shakes and loses her speech (sticks her toungue out and makes a ynah-nyah sound) when petting the cats.

She is even weird about people... but the bugs/animals it doesn't matter. All of them. Pure fear.

Thanks ladies


Here we go again!
Lots of anxieties in our family, too.

easy child was deathly afraid of palm trees as a toddler/preschooler. I couldn't take her near them without her starting to cry. And she still verbalized this fear as recently as this year, but says they don't bother her as much as they did (but she still worries about them sometimes).

difficult child 1 has a needle phobia (not the blood, just the needle) and is also freaked out by flying insects and heights to some extent. Since starting Lexapro, he has relaxed about these things significantly. The fear is still there, just not so all-consuming and paralyzing.

I really sympathize with you and feel badly for your N. I sure hope you can find a way to help her feel better about these things -- I know how miserable it can make a kid feel.

I have an acquaintence whose daughter is deathly afraid of any animal with fur -- in kindergarten when the class went on a trip to a local farm, she became hysterical when she saw a kitten walking across the yard. She's 8 now and has relaxed a bit, but I can still see the panic in her face when an animal is near.

Some people advocate desensitization therapy for phobias. But I've heard that it's not always successful either. GFG1s therapist tried teaching him guided imagery and relaxation techniques to help him get through needle procedures, and it did help him a bit (but I have to say that adding the Lexapro really made the biggest impact).

Hope you can figure something out for N soon.


Mom? What's a difficult child?
Thanks GVC-

I think we need to address this issue for her... I just don't think that much addrenaline racing through her little body constantly can be good??? She is always in that fight or flight mode!!!
It is good to hear that we aren't the only "weird" ones!!!


Well-Known Member
Is it the bugs/animals or the potential for germs from coming into contact with said bugs/animals? An anxious child may really run with an offhand comment made like "Eew, shoo the fly away because it has germs" or "Ick, don't let the doggie lick you because they have germs".


Mom? What's a difficult child?
No TM it is the bugs or animal... I don't even think N knows what germs are in regards to animals... she knows some can bite, which scares her. But she knows a butterfly won't hurt her. But if one lands on her... watch out!!!

Dog's I think it is the upredictability, in her mind. The crazy, tail wagging, jumping, excited... scares her. But even when a dog is calm she is scared.
Cats can scratch, jump on her, bite... but she loves ours. As long as they are just laying there letting her pet them.

I have caught snakes, bugs etc and showed her that I am OK holding them. Let them go... didn't make her touch them or come near them. I hug the dogs and give them kisses etc...

It is something in her little head, nothing traumatic has ever happened. That I can pinpoint??? A mosquito bite here and there which she HATES!!!

ugh, poor husband has had her for 3 weeks now and he said, " I don't know how you deal with this" made me feel good....


Active Member
difficult child 1 has had anxiety but not quiet like N. His is about the bathroom. There was a blue lady in it and ghosts and monsters. They started moving out of the bathroom and into other rooms and he was almost none functional. That is when the psychiatrist increased the Risperdal. That helped alot. He still has issues with the bathroom, but at least its not the whole house. Talking with him didn't do a thing about it. He really needed the medications increased.


Well-Known Member
difficult child has had a phobia of bugs since he was quite small--probably 2 or 3. It has just gotten worse over the years. There are just some things he can't do because of his phobia! It's sad to see a 19 year old shake and tremour because he saw a spider---but no therapy has ever helped.


Active Member
difficult child 1 was like this with basically all mammals, including the cute ones. From as early as I can remember.
He was a bit over a year old when I was unloading the kids outside our house one afternoon (instead of in the garage as usual) and the small, white kitten over the road LOOKED at him, and made as if to cross the road ("children! Goody, I can play!"). difficult child 1 was hysterical and climbing up my legs to get away, even though the kitten didn't actually cross. It wouldn't have been more than six weeks old.

When he was maybe four, we saw a girl in the street with the cutest, tiny puppy - I think it was a long-haired chihuahua. I wanted her to show easy child, but difficult child 1 scrambled into the back of the car to get away from the pup, which by the way was still in the girl's arms, OUTSIDE the car.

At 5, he was in Kindergarten and the class visited a zoo. He spent the entire time clinging to his teacher. She had to keep talking to him and keep him with her, outside the cages and away from the animals. He got a class award "for trying to be brave with the animals at the zoo."
Interestingly, it was the same zoo where he later worked as a volunteer for 18 months!

We despaired for years of ever getting through to difficult child 1. what began to get through was the continual familiarity. We had chooks (poultry) and difficult child 1 was used to watching them scratch around the yard. I would lock the chooks up at night and let them out in the day. If difficult child 1 was home I'd often wait to let them out until he had already had his time outside playing, but as he got used to them he became braver about approaching them.
Then he and husband would go out really early (way before sunrise) to do research on wild birds - tag and release. At first difficult child 1 helped by writing down the measurements, but soon he was running down to check the mist nets and reporting back on what had been caught. His knowledge increased and his fear decreased.

For a long time he was still afraid of animals other than birds, but he actively worked on his fear especially with animals we knew well from the neighbourhood. The dog next door; the 'personality' terrier that lived over the road but 'adopted' the local welfare officer and travelled with him to cases. I would watch difficult child 1 hold out his hand, trembling, to pat a dog. He would kick a ball for a dog and throw a stick for a dog, but if the dog jumped up on him he would be a wreck again.

Several times I tried to get a dog, and it just didn't work out. The last one was a dingo (it turned out) who was just too wild in too many ways. Very friendly, very loving, but hated being fenced in and would dig her way out of anywhere. I remember difficult child 1 sitting beside her, his arm around her. He was 8 at the time and he had begun to work on his fear.

He has done really well, but not completely overcome it. He's been studying animal care and enjoyed his time at the zoo but still gets spooked by some animal situations. He left the zoo at least partly because of this continuing fear - he had a tumble over the fence of the pig enclosure and the rush of pigs scared him. And he was always scared when it came to feeding the Highland cattle - big hairy things that would rush the wheelbarrow in their eagerness to get the food.

I've watched him handle snakes & lizards, birds (many times) and most domestic animals. I remember watching him handle a wombat at the zoo with skill, and it was a delight to see him crooning over the dingo pups and the newborn calf. He's fine with kangaroos. He's hand-fed our brushtail possums that live in our backyard.

He's come a very long way.



New Member
Both difficult child and easy child have an extreme fear of insects. easy child was screaming the other night - so dramatically that I practically broke my neck running up the stairs - to find a bumblebee buzzing around inside her window. Thankfully, I was able to get him - if I hadn't, surely she would not have been able to sleep in there.

difficult child has improved in this over the years. He also had the aversion to grass when he was small - and still hates to sit in grass with shorts on so the grass touches his bare skin. Karate in the summer is held outside - and the first week, he HATED standing in the grass in his bare feet - but he's managed to overcome that for for the most part. He also is very leery around animals, but he likes to look at them. Jumpy, energetic dogs are the worst for him. He will hide or simply remove himself completely from the area. He has never picked up our cat, although when the cat is in a sleepy mood and lays on difficult child's bed, he loves it.

I'm not sure there is anything that can be done about it. I guess I've just always tried to reassure both munchkins that they can't be hurt - but I never tried to force them to get too close to something they were uncomfortable being around.

Good luck.


New Member
I have to say I can relate somewhat to N. I have, I guess, what you would call a "severe" phobia of most bugs. I can tolerate flies and even deal with them if they land on me, and I guess Ladybugs, but that's stretching it because that's way too close to a regular beetle. Anything else and we're talking total panic mode. I feel like an idiot...I make a total fool of myself and I'm so embarrassed, but I truly can not control it (just like all of our difficult child's, right?). And, my phobia extends to small snakes because in my head they are close enough to bugs because of their size. Large snakes are OK because they are more like a mamal and they can sit on my shoulders all day.

Sorry to say that no amount of people telling me that bugs won't hurt me, people forcing me to kill my own pests in the house, etc has helped. In fact, I hate to say I think my physical reaction has gotten much worse, but overall my anxieties have gotten worse, so that's probably why and I need to get that under control.

Two years ago I was on a company trip in Mexico and we got stuck in a category 5 hurricane (Wilma, if any of you remember) and when it had finally passed after three long days of staying in the shelter on the resort and sleeping on marble floors, they let us go back to our rooms late in the night. When my roommate and I returned to our first floor room, we found that our room had slightly flooded, particularlly by the door and in the bathroom. My roommmate quickly jumped in bed and fell fast asleep. I, on the otherhand became quickly preoccupied with all of the insects (and the frog) living in the floodwaters. Freaking out, I tried to wake my roommate to help me, as I was rapidly losing my ability to function, but she refused to get up. I stood there, exhausted from our three day ordeal of living through a category 5 hurricane in a foreign country sleeping (or NOT sleeping) on marble floors and now going into what I did not know then was a full blown panic attack STARING at these insects (and the frog) for a full TWO HOURS until I finally broke down and was able to kill the bugs, scoot the frog out of the room, and collapse on the bed.

My husband doesn't get it. He seems to be under the impression that I CHOOSE to be "afraid of bugs" and he thinks it's funny. Mid-panic he'll pretend to throw one at me just to see me break down in tears. He expects me to just CHOOSE to get over it. ::::sigh::::


New Member
I have to add that I am not a fan of insects either. As a child I had screaming nightmares that always included spiders. Over the years, I have had to be the one who removed them from the munchkins' rooms, so I have overcome it a bit - but I do not under any circumstances want a spider on me. No way. And centipedes - don't even get me started - we have these damp bugs - people call them 'silver leafs', but I don't know what their official name is - I hate, hate, hate them. Yuck!! husband is always deployed to get them.


Active Member
We went through that. To a degree we still are, but we went the educational route with "desensitizing". It took a couple of years, but as difficult child 1 started to read, we started with bug books, etc. He still goes in the house when I catch a bug or swat a fly, but it's not with the "manic panic" that used to go on. The best was when a Praying Mantis walked onto my shoulder without me knowing it, he started pointing at it and "flapping", I looked over, said "hi" to the bug and went on my merry way. It was kind of cool because for a couple of hours I was "the coolest grown up on the planet!". It walked down my arm, I showed it to the kids and explained what they did. Once difficult child 1 got the idea that bugs are the best recyclers on the planet, he started to learn to cope.

But to this day, we're guaranteed a meltdown if there's a bug wing in a zoo or museum!

Good luck!

hearts and roses

Mind Reader
easy child was absolutely terrified of cats and dogs as a youngster. She'd shake, scream and run for the hills when one even looked in her direction. She became paralyzed with fear if there was one in front of her. She wouldn't go to a friends house if she knew they had a cat/dog. By about 10 she began to grow out of it - we had to work with her on it always. At one point I got a small kitty, which inevitably made me die of asthma, but in the meantime, I have some pics and in each one, easy child is leaning away from the cat, crying or standing far away from him. He lasted a week, we gave him back.

Then we eventually went on to get our own little pup. And after about a day or so, she was fine. I think she was 11 by then and we had done a lot of work with her in realizing that not all animals were going to eat her (I think that's what she thought - she was never able to verbalize the reasons for her fears).

difficult child has always been an animal lover, never afraid, always willing to go to petting zoos, etc. easy child would wait in the car instead of checking out goats, etc. It was sad.

Me, I am terrified of bugs - just about every bug freaks me completely out. My H will pretend he has a bug in his hands just to hear the blood curdling screams I emit. I mean, it's the scream of horror flicks. Even grasshoppers and crickets make me freak. I don't know where it came from but as I've aged, it's gotten worse, not better.


Mom? What's a difficult child?
Once again thanks everyone!!! I hate hearing that some of you still suffer as adults... I have a pretty spider bad phobia. But I am a bit calmer than N. At this point I can talk myself through it.
I will keep working on it and hope she can become desensitized as time goes on.


I have a severe phobia of insects and it's actually gotten worse over the years. Full blown panic - can't move, can't breathe, can't talk, can't form a single rational thought. There hasn't been a house built that is big enough for me to share with a bug - I'd let the bug have the house. I'd leave.

I lived in the mountains with spiders the size of small mice and in Georgia where all the bugs are just bigger (read: HUGE) than they are up north and it didn't desensitize me any even though the bugs in Ohio are much smaller in size and number than in the south. I don't think I could handle the process to desensitize. I'm already dreading fall coming because that's when the spiders start moving into the house. Summer evenings are so nice, but once the June Bugs come out I don't spend much time outside at night - and when I do, I spend a lot of time looking all around me, over my shoulders, turning around, etc. My son has to get the mail in the summer because sometimes a spider makes a web on the mailbox. by the way, I have the same reaction even if the bug is dead.

Since she seems to get so upset when they get close to her, I wonder if she's more upset by the thought that they might touch her and how that plays into her Sensory Integration Disorder (SID). Her Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) seems to be intense and the anticipation of them touching her may send her over the edge. Just a thought.


Active Member
Try giving her some bug spray or lotion to put on when she needs it or wants it and she might feel some control over the situation. They make some kid's stuff now that is milder smelling, etc.

difficult child hates bug but for awhile there he was terrified of Cabbage White butterflies. You know the white ones that are EVERYWHERE in summer.