There isn’t a huge body of research on why people don’t like insects and spiders, but the studies that have been done have concluded that one of the main problems people have with creepy crawlies is their unpredictability. They could jump, bite, sting, run, fly…and most people can’t predict what an insect will do next.
But I’ve come to realise that insects and spiders are, in fact, highly predictable.
For three years (its entire adult life) there was a metallic green ground beetle underneath the goats’ water barrel. It was there every time I looked, and I came to depend upon it to be there for Bugmobile programmes (along with two or three others whose ‘addresses’ I knew).
Until age and winter claimed her, I had an Australian orb weaver who I would pluck from her hiding place in the morning, take to a bug program, and return to her home in the afternoon—day after day, week after week.
A bee or wasp will always be the first insect to fly out of a sweep net, so you can quickly let them go before seeing who else you’ve caught.
If you put two adult male crickets together in a cage, they will always chirp.
A ladybug will always climb up an object, and fly away when it gets to the top.
A bee will not sting unless it feels threatened.
Most spiders will quickly rappel to the floor when frightened.
In fact, because insects and spiders behave largely out of instinct, they are incredibly predictable.
But, of course, you have to spend time with them to know that. You have to pay attention to them, instead of just stomping on them when you see them. You have to learn their ways. You have to behave predictably around them, in order to note that they are predictable themselves.
Somewhere, there is an insect research project going on to try to figure out why insects are so frightened of people. I suspect the bugs will find it’s because we’re so unpredictable.