Lepidopterophobia is the fear of butterflies or moths. While some people may have a mild fear of these insects, a phobia is when you have an excessive and irrational fear that interferes with your daily life.

Lepidoterophobia is pronounced lep-ah-dop-ter-a-pho-bee-ah.

How common is this phobia?

The exact prevalence of lepidoterophobia is unknown. In general, specific phobias such as this occur in 5 to 10 percent of the U.S. population.

Animal phobias, a category of specific phobias, are both more common and more severe in younger people.

One older study estimated that animal phobias — which encompass insects like butterflies and moths — occur in 12 percent of women and 3 percent of men.

A phobia of insects like butterflies or moths may be caused by several things:

  • fear of a possible insect reaction, such as it jumping on you or touching you
  • sudden exposure to the insect
  • a negative or traumatic experience with it
  • genetics
  • environmental factors
  • modeling, which is when a close family member has the phobia or fear and you may learn it from them

Symptoms of lepidopterophobia or any phobia can vary from person to person. The most common symptom is a fear that’s out of proportion to the actual danger butterflies or moths pose.

Symptoms of lepidopterophobia include:

  • persistent and irrational fear of coming into contact with butterflies or moths
  • severe anxiety or panic when thinking about them
  • avoidance of situations in which you may see these insects

Symptoms of phobias in general include:

A phobia is diagnosed when symptoms are present for 6 months or more.

Symptoms also shouldn’t be explained by other conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or other anxiety disorders.

Coping with your phobia may include a lot of different techniques. The goal is to gradually face your fear and function daily. Of course, this is easier said than done.

While a healthcare provider can prescribe medications, provide therapy, and help you create a treatment plan, you may also find that a support system will help you cope by feeling understood.

Resources include:

In general, there are a number of coping techniques used in anxiety treatment that may help:

How to help a child cope with lepidopterophobia

Animal phobias typically occur during childhood and are more intense in younger people.

Children may express their fear by crying, throwing a tantrum, freezing up, or clinging to a parental figure.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, if your child shows signs of having a phobia, you can do the following:

  • Talk to your child about their anxieties and help them understand that many children experience fears, but that you can work together to get through them.
  • Don’t demean or ridicule them. It can create resentment and won’t promote a trusting environment.
  • Reassure and support your child through coping.
  • Don’t force bravery on them. It can take some time for your child to overcome their phobia. It’s not a good idea to try to force them into being brave. You should instead encourage progress.

A phobia can be severe and last a lifetime if untreated. It’s a good idea to start by seeing your child’s pediatrician if you believe they’re experiencing phobia symptoms.

If you believe you or your child are experiencing symptoms of a phobia, it’s always a good idea to see a mental health professional for evaluation.

They can help rule out other conditions, give a diagnosis, and create a treatment plan that’s right for the situation.

If the phobia is beginning to cause major strain on your daily life, you should seek help as soon as possible.

When severe, phobias can:

  • interfere with your relationships
  • affect work productivity
  • restrict your social activities
  • reduce self-esteem

Some phobias can worsen to the point where people don’t want to leave the house, especially if they have panic attacks when exposed to the fear. Getting treatment sooner can help prevent this progression.

There are several treatments available for phobias that are highly effective. When treating a phobia, the first step is to address why you have the fear and go from there.

Depending on the severity of the phobia and willingness to work at it, treatment can take weeks, months, or longer. If left untreated, insect phobias like lepidopterophobia can continue for decades.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

Behavioral therapy is one of the most effective treatments for phobias. CBT focuses on understanding and changing your thought and behavior patterns.

A therapist will work with you to help you understand why you have this fear. Together, you can develop coping mechanisms for when the fear starts to come on.

Exposure therapy

Exposure therapy is a type of CBT where you’re exposed to the fear until you’re desensitized.

The aim of this type of therapy is for your distress to decrease and your fear response to weaken as time goes by and you’re exposed over and over again.

Exposure therapy can also help you see that you’re capable of confronting your fear and that nothing bad will happen when you do.

Medication

While there are no specific FDA-approved medications for treating phobias, there are several that may be prescribed:

  • Antidepressants. These include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like escitalopram (Lexapro) and fluoxetine (Prozac).
  • Benzodiazepines. These anti-anxiety medications are often used short term and can help with symptoms of panic. Examples include alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium).
  • Buspirone. Buspirone is a daily anti-anxiety medication.
  • Beta-blockers. These medications like propranolol (Inderal) are typically used for heart-related conditions but may also be prescribed off-label for anxiety.

Other treatments

  • virtual therapy, a newer type of therapy where you’re exposed to the phobia via computer or virtual reality
  • hypnosis
  • family therapy, a therapy designed to help family members improve communication and provide the best emotional support

Lepidopterophobia is the fear of butterflies or moths. Like other phobias, it can be debilitating if left untreated.

CBT, such as exposure therapy, along with lifestyle techniques, can help you cope with having this phobia.

You may also consider finding a support group.

If a phobia is interfering with your life, get help.

Treatments are highly effective, and they can help you to be able to go about your daily life without fear.