Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Itsy-bitsy spider

The Entomological Society of Ontario and the Entomological Society of Canada are currently having their Joint Annual Meeting here at the university and this afternoon we will have some organised tours at our institute. I thought this post might be a good fit :-)

Initially I found it hard to believe but some entomologists despite choosing a career working with insects, exhibit negative feelings toward spiders which range from mild disgust to extreme arachnophobia.

A new paper in the journal American Entomologist features the results of a survey involving a number of arachnophobic entomologists (41) who were asked questions about their fear of spiders. Although most of them only showed mild disgust or mild fear, they still claimed to react differently to spiders than to insects. Other respondents clearly scored in the clinically arachnophobic range and react strongly to spiders.

Some of the entomologists developed their negative feelings toward spiders in childhood and these feelings were not overcome in adulthood. In general the study shows that entomologists have a lot in common with arachnophobes in the general public despite the great morphological diversity that insects exhibit and despite years of professional exposure to insects.

Despite the assumption that entomologists would extend warm feelings toward spiders because of their habituation to arthropods in general, arachnophobia does occur in some members of our profession. For these people, two more legs makes a big difference.

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