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Entomologists as Arachnophobes

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Many entomologists are scared of spiders, according to a paper published in the fall issue of the American Entomologist, by Richard Vetter, a retired arachnologist from the University of California, Riverside.

| October 16, 2013

Many entomologists are scared of spiders, according to a paper published in the fall issue of the American Entomologist, by Richard Vetter, a retired arachnologist from the University of California, Riverside.

In the paper, Vetter surveyed 41 entomologists who willingly admitted to having some level of irrational aversion to spiders. Most had only a mild fear (Vetter refers to them as “arachno-adverse”), but the aversion was strong enough to cause them to react differently to spiders than to other bugs, even such disgust-triggering insects as cockroaches and maggots.

As one entomologist who participated in the survey put it: “I would rather pick up a handful of maggots than have to get close enough to a spider to kill it.”

(Spiders and other arachnids are not insects, by the way. Insects, have six legs, antennae and many other features that differentiate them from arachnids.)

The reasons entomologists cite for being freaked out by spiders are the same as those cited by the rest of us: Spiders have many legs. They make fast, jerky movements and show up unexpectedly. They create webs that feel “creepy” against human skin. They are “ugly and disgusting.”
 

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