Written by Joanne Lau

Health

My Kryptonite

Joanne Lau is terrified of butterflies and she’s not alone. Think that’s silly? Think again…

butterfly

These bastards can fly at 50kph.

lepidopterophobia (n.): butterflies, fear of; linked to mottephobia

mottephobia (n.): moths, fear of

Butterflies. Hate ’em. With their furry bodies and powdery wings, flying all erratically like little drunken messengers of death…

And moths. Don’t get me started on moths.

Fact: Chinese people believe that moths are the souls of the dead coming to visit upon you. Fact: You should never tell your young, impressionable, nine-year-old mottephobic daughter this, as it will scar her for life.

A phobia is defined as an irrational fear of something, but there is nothing irrational about lepidopterophobia. Pause and consider for a moment: If butterflies are nothing to be afraid of, why is the term “butterflies” used to describe the feeling of nervousness and anxiety in the pit of your stomach?

Perhaps it’s because the feeling is descriptive of having hundreds of butterflies inside you fluttering and tickling your insides, but that simply proves the point.  What are they doing in there? Eating you alive from the inside, that’s what.

If that’s not enough, then there’s The Butterfly Effect, a phenomenon whereby a small change at one place in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere, e.g., a butterfly flapping its wings in Rio de Janeiro might change the weather in Chicago

“Butterflies don’t have lungs. I don’t know why that’s creepy, it just is.”

Manifestation of Chaos Theory is BAD. Inspiring an Ashton Kutcher movie is WORSE.

There are a number of famous Lepidopterophobes, including Oscar-winning actress, Nicole Kidman who once said: “Sometimes when I would come home from school the biggest butterfly or moth you’d ever seen would be just sitting on our front gate. I would climb over the fence, crawl around to the side of the house – anything to avoid having to go through the front gate. I have tried to get over it (the phobia). I walked into the big butterfly cage at the American Museum of Natural History and had the butterflies on me, but that didn’t work. I jump out of planes, I could be covered in cockroaches, I do all sorts of things, but I just don’t like the feel of butterflies’ bodies.”

Still not convinced? Here’s some creepy butterfly facts:

• Their wings are covered in scales

• They taste with their feet and smell with their antennae. So when you’re busy cooing about how pretty it is while it’s landed on your finger, just remember that it’s TASTING you.

• Caterpillars shed their skin to accommodate growth (like snakes, spiders, and things that kill people in science fiction films)

• Butterflies don’t have lungs. I don’t know why that’s creepy, it just is.

• Butterflies can attain a flight speed of up to 50kph (you can’t outrun them.)

• Monarchs can fly 1,000km without stopping (you can’t outrun them.)

• Some butterflies, such as the Northern Pearly Eye, will fly at night! (Just when you thought you were safe…)

• Vision is well developed in butterflies (making them more terrifying than Tyrannosaurus Rex which you can outsmart by staying perfectly still while a distant colleague waves a flashlight, if Jurassic Park is anything to go by)

• Some butterflies have organs of hearing and some species are also known to make stridulatory and clicking sounds (Enough said)

Lepidopterophobia is a fear, sure, but don’t ever call it irrational.

* This is for all those who thought they were alone. Fear not. There are more of us. Go to www.facebook.com/idespisebutterflies or www.tumblr.com/tagged/i-hate-butterflies.

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Written by Joanne Lau

Joanne Lau is that tired-looking Chinese-Canadian girl on the tube scribbling in her notebook and staring into space a lot.