Halloween is right around the corner, and for a lot of us, that draws images of zombies, witches, and other common “monstrous” characters. We tend to include spiders, bats, snakes, and many other pests in that category. In fact, 10 percent of the top 100 fears in the world are pest-related. Statistically, that means that about 1 in 10 people with a phobia are afraid of a specific pest, or potentially insects in general. Despite our quirky use of these critters in décor and costume ideas, they do present a very real fear for many – often, for good reason.
Spiders and Snakes and Roaches, Oh My!
Arachnophobia: The Spider Scaries
As the most common fear across the world, arachnophobia stands for the fear of spiders. According to studies, women are nine times more likely to have arachnophobia than men. We may assume, then, that the fear of spiders is culturally-learned – with men typically called upon as spider-killers. But arachnophobia goes much further; it’s also an evolutionary response. Over time, we as a species have learned that spiders are associated with infections, disease, or at the very least, a rash and discomfort – even from the non-venomous types. From there, our fear of spiders increases due to the perceived fear in those around us (we see someone else respond with fear to spiders and think we should have a similar reaction).
Further, spiders’ physicality is meant to scare off predators – they’re often hairy, have contrasting coloring, and eight fast-moving and scurrying legs to throw off anything that poses a threat. And it works; other species have similar frightened responses to the stimulus of a spider, including birds. Add this to the fact that spiders are known predators themselves, and their feeding tendencies bring to mind images of the creatures trapping prey in their massive webs. How’s that for fear-inducing?
The trouble with spiders is that, in most cases, you don’t see them. There’s a fear of the unknown that comes into play. In fact, less than five percent of all spiders you see indoors have ever been outside. So, chances are that when you see a spider, it’s not new to your home – it’s probably been living with you undetected for a long time. House spiders usually spend their entire life cycle (often 1-2 years) in, on, or under their native building. So, while exclusionary methods of sealing cracks and holes can prevent outdoor spiders from getting in, it won’t do much for the spiders that are already inside. In this case, professional pest control is your best bet.
Ophidiophobia: Scream-Inducing Snakes
As the second most common fear in the world, almost a third of humans are believed to have an intense fear of snakes. Like spiders, the snakes we most often think about are venomous. As a whole, though, most types of snakes are not dangerous to humans. The fear comes from an evolutionary instinct as well as learned behaviors. The fear of snakes has been observed in other species, too, like orangutans, birds, and horses. This means that both the learned reaction and instinctive fear for snakes are present across the animal kingdom.
As the villain in movies, books, and other cultural references, snakes are made to be a larger concern than we may think. There are only 8,000 venomous snake bites in the United States each year, and thanks to modern medicine, only six of those result in death. In fact, there are more fatal bee stings each year than there are snake bites. But that doesn’t mean your fear of snakes is completely irrational. Their scaly appearance and dislocating jaw are odd to say the least and since they’re also low to the ground and virtually silent slitherers, the surprise factor makes snakes go from disconcerting to truly terrifying.
Preventing snakes generally includes ensuring your home isn’t a good living environment for them. This means making it harder for them to find their way indoors – patching up any holes or cracks in the exterior – and limiting their food supply. Keeping areas around the exterior of a building trimmed and as vegetation-free as possible will reduce their nearby hiding places as they look for a way inside. Pest and rodent control is also a great help in mitigating snakes, who prey on them. For proper snake removal and control, count on the wildlife management professionals at McCall Service.
Katsaridaphobia: Creepy Cockroaches
In the top 60 worldwide phobias is katsaridaphobia, the fear of cockroaches. While a less common phobia than those against snakes and spiders, this pest, too, can send some reeling. Unlike snakes and spiders, the fear of cockroaches isn’t an innate, biological response from a history of deadly bites. And while cockroaches can prove dangerous, the effects of a cockroach aren’t as instantaneous as that of snakes and spiders. Rather, fear of cockroaches is a learned, imitable response – we see how others around us react and learn to react the same way. Read up on the health-related dangers they pose and their mysterious nature, and it only makes sense to be wary of the pest.
Sure, there’s horrific mentions of giant cockroaches, nuclear-resistant roaches, and, yes, the living-dead cockroaches (surviving without a head) in pop culture and old wives tales. But the truth is that we don’t need myths for this creature to be scary. It is true that cockroaches can survive for a week without a head, but more frightening is their ability to adapt. Some cockroaches can tolerate freezing cold while others thrive in hot, tropical environments, and they can be found on all continents except Antarctica. They’re known to pick up and transmit dozens of disease-causing bacteria like Salmonella and even harbor viruses like Polio. And because they like to munch on our food, the likelihood of an exchange of pathogens is higher.
Cockroaches are hard to get rid of, too. They’re versatile and durable creatures – while they can’t survive at the drop site of an atomic bomb, they can survive over 10 times the radiation a human can. Some species have adapted against certain pest control measures, and that’s even if you can spot them in time. Cockroaches are excellent hiders, nocturnal in nature, and quick on their feet. And because they’re quick to multiply, if you see one, chances are high that you have many. A certain level of cleanliness can help mitigate the threat, but only to an extent. Your most effective response to this pest problem is sealing up holes and calling in the professionals.
Leave the Haunts to Halloween, and Call McCall
You wouldn’t want to see a ghost or mummy outside the parameters of the holiday. Why should you worry about seeing a spider, snake, cockroach, or other pest after the paper banners come down and the plastic rings are recycled? With reliable and consistent pest control, those fears can be a thing of the past, no matter the time of year. Let your decorations speak for themselves – don’t worry about real creepy crawlies this season. At McCall Service, our comprehensive approach to pest control will keep you and your loved ones in the clear. Contact us today!