“Usually the fear of bugs falls into the creepy and creepy category, and most of the time it’s fear with a component of disgust,” he says. “Cicadas are particularly unusual, and the less familiar things are, the more frightening they can be.”
These feelings are probably part of an evolutionary mechanism to protect us. People are inclined to avoid things that could spread disease or harm us, such as insects, rodents and snakes, he says.
Plus, people don’t like unpredictable things that they can’t control. The result is often fear, repulsion, and even anger.
“When there are swarms of them and you’re not in control, it adds to a level of stress or frustration and fear,” says Antony. “Fear and anger are two sides of the same coin – both are responses to the threat.”
Their appearance can also be a factor, he says. With their wide wings, wide eyes, and voluminous bodies – up to over 2 inches long – they are unlikely to win any beauty contests with insects.
“They kind of look like aliens,” says Antony. “The bigger a bug gets, the more it looks like a monster.”
People also likely have negative associations with insects from screen portrayals or bad experiences they’ve had personally, he says.
For Vicki Dodson, artistic director and graphic designer based in Baltimore who creates her own cicada art, it’s quite the opposite. She learned from an early age to appreciate insects like cicadas, she says. And through the process of selling her products, she realized that many people shared her appreciation for them.
In fact, there is quite the grasshopper that follows. A group of insect enthusiasts nicknamed the “cicada hunters” come from other states and even other countries to follow them.
“To me, I feel like humans are so detached from nature in so many ways now,” says Dodson, 57. “When I think of a billion insects coming out of the ground – singing, mating, dying – it’s a phenomenal phenomenon. reminder that there is a natural world out there.
“Not to sound out of date, but it’s a bit magical.”
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