Does Insect Aversion Lead to Increased Household Pesticide Use?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In many human societies, domestic insect pests often evoke feelings of disgust, fear and aversion. These common feelings may translate to increased use of household pesticides. No study has ever explored this possibility and consequently, efforts to mitigate public exposure to domestic pesticides typically focus on addressing knowledge gaps. We tested the hypothesis that negative emotions toward insects may motivate people to use pesticides, by interviewing 70 participants and assessing their insect aversion levels using a computerized test. Contrary to our hypothesis, we found no effect of insect aversion on pesticide use. However, we did find that personal attributes and preferences such as wishing to avoid exposure to toxic chemicals, being vegetarian and taking frequent nature walks reduced pesticide use, in addition to low infestation levels and physical attributes of the housing unit. We emphasize the importance of conducting future studies in various societies, where insect aversion and other factors may have different effects on household pesticide use. Such studies may provide culture-specific insights that could foster the development of next-generation urban IPM (Integrated Pest Management) public education programs, which will address not only knowledge gaps, but also emotional aspects and personal attributes that lead to unnecessary or excessive use of household pesticides.

Original languageEnglish
Article number555
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • IPM
  • entomophobia
  • fear of insects
  • insecticides
  • insectophobia
  • pest control
  • pesticide exposure
  • pesticide poisoning
  • urban pests

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science


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