Mottephobia

I can't pinpoint an exact time in my childhood, but I have always been terrified of moths and butterflies. The summer months for me can be a nightmare as everywhere I seem to go they are there. Although I know that they cannot harm me, I am petrified of their papery wings and furry bodies. Moths tend to come out more at night and are attracted to the light, needless to say that in the long hot summer nights when the windows are open, I don't have any lights on in the house. I don't even like seeing pictures of moths or butterflies in books - I am covered in goosebumps just writing this hub!

There is an end to it as my phobia only lasts around four months of the year here in the UK and then life can resume normally from about October through to April/May.

One hot summers night in June of this year, I decided to have a shower and forgot to close the top window in the bathroom. Singing away to myself, I noticed that the light kept dimming at times and I wasn't sure why. I thought it had something to do with the bulb needing replacing and carried on showering. Several minutes later I stepped out of the bath to get dried and nearly died at what I saw. This is what greeted me......................

A hawk moth.
A hawk moth. | Source

............ I screamed so loudly that my neighbour banged on the door to see if I was alright. I was physically sick and luckily my partner was home to put it back out the window. The photo is not the exact one that was terrorising me, as I didn't have time to get my camera in between screaming, vomiting and hyper-ventilating!

I can't even drive at night as they are attracted to the headlights and seem to fly straight at me. If I am out and see one, I run indoors (wherever I am) squealing at the top of my lungs. I know that its embarrassing for the rest of the family, but I truly can't help it. As most of these creatures are no longer around with the winter just around the corner, I decided to get brave and do a bit of research on the subject.

Fear of moths and butterflies.

The fear of moths and butterflies is officially called Mottephobia. There is no specific name for the fear of butterflies, but is linked to Mottephobia, and is called Lepidopterophobia (fear of larger insects including butterflies). Research has shown that it is relatively rare in comparison to other phobias.

Symptoms of mottephobia

Some of the symptoms of mottephobia are:

  • shaking/trembling
  • panic attacks and/or anxiety
  • sweating
  • palpitations
  • sickness
  • behaving irrationally
  • breathlessness
  • dry mouth
  • intense feeling of wanting to escape the situation

Reasons for being mottephobic

People like me, who fear moths, have various views on them, and these are some of the reasons that people give for being frightened of them:

  • They fly straight at you.
  • They may fly into your mouth or become tangled in your hair.
  • They seek light and will fly around crazily to get to the light source.
  • Moths look creepy with their long furry bodies and large wings.
  • They will fly into an open window in their quest for light and the thought of them invading their house is very alarming to some people.

Treatment for mottephobia

As with any other phobia, professionals take mottephobia seriously and they claim that the phobia can be minimized or even cured with various treatments available.

Therapists

In some cases, talking to a therapist may be all that is required. A therapist will try to pinpoint the fear and talk it through over a number of sessions which can vary from person to person.

Hypnosis

This treatment involves a qualified hypnotherapist to minimize the fear whilst the patient is in a sub conscious state. It is a means of re-programming your thought process to make your fear less or in some cases, completely disappear.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (N.L.P.)

N.L.P. is similar to hypnosis, but instead of being "put under a spell" the voice of the practitioner is used to convince the patient that their phobia is irrational and eventually the fear is lessened and in some cases, eradicated.

Medication

Doctors can prescribe medication to alleviate the anxiety and panic caused by the phobia, especially if the patients quality of life is suffering.

Self help

There are a lot of self help books and techniques that sufferers can try out. One system that I read about was that over a period of weeks, you try to change your perception of moths. For the first week, look at pictures of moths until you see that it is quite safe to do so. Next look at a real moth through a window, finally building up to the last week where you are able to re think your thought process and actually walk in the garden when moths/butterflies are present. Hmmm! This process is called de-sensitising and takes a lot of courage as you face your fears.


I'm just glad that its October and my Mottephobia has gone ..................................... at least until May!!

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Comments 12 comments

Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

Hi Jacqui, what an awful phobia for you to have, I think you have done well to write about this subject and very well too!

I should imagine you are pleased to see the end of summer and the end of moths and butterflies for a while.

Thank you for sharing.


Cloverleaf profile image

Cloverleaf 5 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

Hi Jacqui, you are very brave to face your fear of moths and butterflies. At least you can rest easy now for a while! Thanks for sharing your story and tips for other people to help overcome mottephobia. Voting up and interesting.


ktrapp profile image

ktrapp 5 years ago from Illinois

Your title caught my attention. I was wondering if this was a fear of applesauce (we have a brand called Motts in the U.S., don't know if you have it in the U.K). HaHa. It's a good thing I don't suffer from this. Lately my dog seems to be trying to catch these small moths that jump up out of the grass.


jacqui2011 profile image

jacqui2011 5 years ago from Leicester, United Kingdom Author

@ Movie Master - I really am glad to see the end of this season. The moths here in Leicester, UK seem to have been a lot bigger this summer. I felt so shivery uploading the pic of the moth. Thanks for reading. Best wishes.


jacqui2011 profile image

jacqui2011 5 years ago from Leicester, United Kingdom Author

@ Cloverleaf - 7 months of not screaming should do my lungs good. Lol. My partners nephew sent him a photo on facebook of a huge moth he found in the garden a few weeks ago. It was huge - the size of a saucer. I really think I would have passed out if I had seen that! Thanks for the vote up. Best wishes.


jacqui2011 profile image

jacqui2011 5 years ago from Leicester, United Kingdom Author

Hi ktrapp, Thanks for reading. We don't have that brand of applesauce here in the UK, but I can see why you thought the hub might be connected. Ha ha. Your dog sounds quite useful to have around the house as a moth guard. Pity you live so far away or I could have rented him from you for a few months of the year. Lol.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 5 years ago from Fife, Scotland

Hi jacqui2011,

This is a really interesting account of your phobia - as you say, it may be embarrassing for family and friends when you scream etc. But when the instinct of fear is switched on there is very little you can do about it. More to the point, while you go through the fear, you don't really care what anyone thinks as long as the trigger is taken away!

My sister, when younger, was petrified of spiders! We shared a bedroom at one time and she would get me to check all over the room to make sure none of the little blighters was hiding somewhere!! When one unexpectedly came near her she would literally go hysterical. It was awful to see that because she was normally a very placid and easy going person. I think she would have empathy with you and what you are experiencing.

Great hub - and I know this would have taken a lot of courage to do this - so many, many thanks for sharing. Voted up + awesome!


jacqui2011 profile image

jacqui2011 5 years ago from Leicester, United Kingdom Author

Hi Seeker7, thanks so much for your very interesting comment. I can totally relate to your sisters fear of the spiders. During the summer, I have to get my fiancé to check every inch of the bedroom before I can go to bed. I recently bought this mesh roll that you cut to shape to allow you to open windows and it keeps moths etc out. I know I must be a nightmare to live with, but it hasn't got any better over the years. As it's only a seasonal thing, at least I know there is an end to it. With spiders and other phobias, they can happen anytime of the year, so I really feel sorry for people suffering from these phobias.

Thanks for reading and I appreciate the vote up.


debbie roberts profile image

debbie roberts 5 years ago from Greece

I'm absolutely petrified of moths, I hate the way they fly, hitting everything and anything. I thought I was just strange. Show me a snake, frog, rat or mouse and I'll be fascinated. Moths and spiders I just can't handle. Your hub has enlightened me. Thank you.


jacqui2011 profile image

jacqui2011 5 years ago from Leicester, United Kingdom Author

Hi debbie, I used to think that I was strange and when I googled it, I found that it was quite common. I hate the erratic way that they fly around. I get my partner to check everywhere before I go to sleep! I hate driving at night in the dark and they fly into the headlights. YUK!!


Joy Salter 4 years ago

THANK YOU JACQUI FOR GIVING A NAME TO MY PHOBIA OF MOTHS AND BUTTERFLIES. IT IS THE POWDER ON THEIR WINGS THAT I DON'T LIKE. ALSO THE FACT THAT THEY FLY AT YOU.BEETLES MAKE ME SHUDDER BUT I CAN WALK AWAY FROM THEM, I DON'T MIND SPIDERS, RATS OR OTHER CREEPY CRAWLIES. I HAVE ONE OTHER PHOBIA, BUT I CAN MOSTLY MANAGE THAT, I AM CLAUSTRAPHOBIC, BUT IF I MANAGE TO AVOID FEELING TRAPPED OR SHUT IN THEN I MANAGE TO GET BY.


jacqui2011 profile image

jacqui2011 4 years ago from Leicester, United Kingdom Author

@ Joy Salter - I know exactly what you mean. Other creepy crawlies are not as bad for me either. I don't like them but I know I can run away from them. Moths fly so erratically that it frightens me so much to the point that I feel sick. Since I researched this topic, I have come across many people who have a fear of moths, so we are definitely not alone. Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

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