One Notable Ecologist Wants More People To Study Insects For Their Own Sake

One Notable Ecologist Wants More People To Study Insects For Their Own Sake

If you find insects repulsive, then you are certainly not alone. These creatures are not relatable in any way, and too many of them carry and spread disease. However, you can imagine how entomologists, ecologists and other academic experts feel about this assumption. Mainly they feel that insects are victimized by too many misunderstandings. Insect experts believe that bugs are not deserving of the widespread negative feelings that so many have reserved for them. Robert Bixler, a professor at Clemson University’s College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences, is one such expert. Bixler has been fascinated with insects from an early age. You would think that the man would be able to name every insect in the world. Bixler despairs over the fact that insects are not more celebrated or studied. He seems sure that even the most immovable feelings of revulsion toward insects could be reversed with the right education.

The discomfort so many people experience while near insects is part of what bothers Dr. Bixler about the pervasive lack of insect knowledge. For example, many people may think twice about indulging in certain outdoor activities because the idea of sharing an environment with insects arouses fear and disgust. Dr. Bixler believes that this common feeling of fear and discomfort would disappear if people were better educated concerning the nature of insects.

In an effort to change the widespread prejudice against bugs, Dr. Bixler and a graduate student, Nate Shipley, first set out to determine how much people know about insects. Both academics created an insect quiz to be completed by random groups of people, and the results were less than impressive. Even Dr. Bixler was surprised by the general public’s lack of insect-related knowledge. The questionnaire also asked members of the public to rate certain insects according to how interesting they seem.

In response to the depressingly ignorant responses, as well as the questions concerning interest, Dr. Bixler is helping to change insect-related curriculum in schools. Dr. Bixler is also creating brochures that highlight the most “interesting” insects. These brochures can be used in a variety of educational settings. Ultimately, Dr. Bixler will attempt to influence how insect-related information is communicated during group projects in botanical gardens, museums, nature centers, and websites. Dr. Bixler’s noble aim is to reduce the degree of fear, discomfort and disgust that insects tend to evoke in many people.

Do you have a fear of insects, or particular insects? Do you think that people can unlearn their fears of insects?


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