Saturday, February 2, 2008

Fear of Cockroaches

(Note: I have removed the roach photo originally placed near the beginning of this article because it traumatized roach-fearing folk whom, seeking to fix their phobia, couldn't get past the terrifying roach pic, to read the good stuff. Sorry Nimisha!)

Bugs and I. I have a love-hate relationship with insects. I love most insects and hate some of them.

In fact I am stricken by a malady known as Entomophobia, which is a fear of insects. More specifically, Blattodeaphobia, which is a fear of cockroaches. Not all cockroaches, just one species, Periplaneta americana.

I guess I am Periplanetaphobic.

I've no problems with other insects... unless I think that the critter crawling across my leg is a cockroach. This usually produces reflex scream-leap-flap actions that continue until the critter is positively identified as something other than a cockcroach. That is, Periplaneta cockroach.

This irrational fear of roaches does not befit my job title, which contains the words 'entomologist' and 'Dr'. I study insects and spend a lot of time with them. I have been an entomologist for nine years, not including four years chasing insects and conducting mini insect research projects in my undergrad years (ah the joys of life). You would think I would have gotten over my fear of roaches by now right? Somewhat, yes. But sometimes, when caught unawares and with my defenses down, I realise that the scream-leap-flap reflex lurks still within my psyche.

Take comfort my friends, you are not alone. An insect scientist is among you roach-fearers. I have somewhat managed to overcome my fear of cockroaches and I'll walk you through the process a little further down this post.