Mottephobia: The Fear of Moths

A phobia is an irrational fear of something. This isn’t just a regular fear, though. I’m afraid of cockroaches, but I’ll deal with them if I have to (but usually I just let my husband do that, there’s no need for all of the screaming if he’s around). No, phobias are fears on steroids.

There are all kinds of reasons you might develop a phobia. They can be acquired through bad experiences, stem from generalized anxiety or even be caused by head injuries. You can find lists online that chronicle all of the phobias (like hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia, which is, I shit you not, the fear of long words…like, what monster decided to name it that?) and if you’re like me, spend way too much time looking through all of them.

One thing that is common among most people who have a phobia is that they know it’s irrational, but that just doesn’t even matter.


So Many Phobias

I have a lot of phobias. More than a normal person should ever have, probably. I’m afraid of a lot of things, just in general, though. Here’s some of my phobias (with the legit name, too…this is a legit place here):

The Origin of the Fear

Some of my phobias aren’t that crazy. A lot of people are afraid of heights and small spaces, and even holes. Not all of them really affect my life, either. My fear of falling is what keeps me from riding a bike or a skateboard or anything else that isn’t four wheels or my feet planted firmly on the ground, but other than that I do alright. The one that I get picked on for the most, though, is my fear of moths. Gather ’round, because it’s story time:

When I was a kid, my older brother found this crazy looking moth. Crazy looking as in it looked just like a Gremlin (a movie that I watched without permission and that scared the daylights out of me). Naturally, this freaked me out to no end. Well, my sister noticed this and, being a big sister, decided to start a campaign of throwing moths at me any chance she got (she isn’t afraid of anything).

Throughout my childhood and into my teen years, my fear grew and grew. I would have full-blown panic attacks if one got too close to me; shaking, crying, shortness of breath – the whole deal. The final nail in the “I’m terrified of moths” coffin was one night after a volleyball game when I was still in high school.

Worst-Case Scenario

I’m sitting on my couch watching TV when I feel a bug fly by my head. I absent-mindedly swiped at it and thought it went away. About ten minutes later I stand up and immediately lose. my. effing. mind. Something was in my ear, scratching away in its attempt to get out. I couldn’t take it.

I was falling (literally – actually on the ground falling) all over the place, crying, screaming – just in general acting like an idiot – while my mom was rushing around trying to find away to get it out. I kept yelling, “Just knock me out, please!” to which she would exasperatedly respond, “How in the hell do you expect me to knock you out?”

So, anyway, we go into the bathroom and my mom is trying to get it out but every time she touches it, it burrows deeper into my ear, sending me into another wave of lunacy that includes jerking my head away from her. More screaming. More crying. More begging to be knocked out. All the while she’s getting more and more annoyed with me and is probably considering granting my wish. She doesn’t though, because she’s too nice.

After about five minutes of this absolute chaos, she decides she has to kill it so it will stop burrowing. Great idea, right? It would have been, had I not been so damn squirrely. She goes to pour a cap-full of rubbing alcohol into my ear, but I move at the last second, in such a way that the rubbing alcohol misses its target entirely and instead goes right up my nose. So now I’m crying and sputtering and coughing and she’s profusely apologizing and trying to get my face under the running water.


Finally, we kill the poor little guy and she’s digging into my ear with a bobby pin (“That’s how we used to clean our ears, it’s fine!”) when all of a sudden my ear starts bleeding, because of course. I knew I was deaf before this because I’m dramatic and I couldn’t hear out of that ear due to the bug and rubbing alcohol, but now I really knew I was deaf. “Oh, damn.” I hear her say with my good ear, “Come on, we’re going to have to go to the emergency room.” (I have to hand it to her, she stayed fairly calm throughout the entire ordeal.)

We walk into the waiting room, me still in my volleyball uniform, my mascara running down my face and my eyes bloodshot. My mom tells them what’s going on and they get me back (all while laughing, I’m sure). The doctor flushes my ear and what comes out? A moth. My nemesis.

Although that was one of the worst nights of my life, I do kind of wish it had been recorded because I bet it was pretty entertaining.

Facing Your Fears

You know, they say that the only way to get past a fear is to face it. That might be true for some people or scenarios, but that wasn’t true for me. Having a moth in my ear did not make me fear moths less. It just gave me a whole new reason to fear them.

It’s now been about 13 years since that happened and I am still terrified of moths. As a matter of fact, just recently I got trapped in my car in my garage because there was a hummingbird moth flying around between me and the door.

This is not a cute hummingbird. This is a terrifying moth.

I love all animals. Well, most animals. So, I don’t want moths to die or anything, I just want them to, y’know, stay the hell away from me.

Do you have a phobia? Or a story like mine? I’d love to hear about it!

2 thoughts on “Mottephobia: The Fear of Moths

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