Has iNaturalist made you less phobic

I have never been a heavily phobic person when it comes to the natural world, but like most people, I definitely don’t like being startled by certain creatures being in too close proximity to me. Certain animals, like spiders and centipedes, naturally provoke a reaction. But since joining iNaturalist, I have become a lot more comfortable with a lot of these animals. Mostly because I want to score observations!

I was thinking of asking this question for a while, but a prime example just occurred to me: I left my door open to cool out my room, and I heard some crinkling…I looked over and some type or rat had just walked right into my room. I yelled in surprise, and it ran out, and now I am wishing I had gotten a picture first! :/

Along with the motivation of wanting to get observations, being on here has just made me more aware of the natural world and that there is a lot of it going on, and that a lot of animals that would have once spooked me out are very common and just living their own lives, close to me.

Has anyone had any comparable experiences?


Yes, I actually thought about this the other day. Now when I find a tick crawling on me after a day in the woods I think “yay, another observation!” I am also much more likely to take pictures of insects.


Reminded me of this topic https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/gateway-spiders-evolving-our-behavior-getting-friendly-with-organisms-on-the-nope-spectrum/4335
Sadly iNat didn’t change a lot, I only have reaction on louse flies, when cockroaches are running right at me and something unexpectedly tries to fly in my face. :slightly_smiling_face: But I always was afraid of squishing insects accidentally and iNat needs made me hold insects tightly a lot and I’m holding beetles now without fear.


I’ve never been phobic about anything, really, so iNat hasn’t helped in that respect. I’m careful - a lot of insects (like some Hemiptera) can inflict a nasty bite, and some of the parasitic ones I am not really fond of. I stay away from larger mammals, am startled by some things, and don’t particularly like cockroaches or bedbugs.


I never really had a phobia about any species as a child but when I started getting into my late teens I started to become phobic of worms and snakes (something about the way they move became unsettling to me). iNat sort of helped with both as long as they aren’t moving around too much, not because I learned more about them, but because it helped to condition me to have a positive response to a new or rare organism.

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Thankfully, I don’t have any phobias so I can’t weigh in there, but I can say since using iNat, I have started noticing a wider variety life out there, like now instead of wishing that fly would stop annoying me so I can watch this bird, I now kind of wonder what the fly is. And instead of just looking for Bumble Bees, I’m chasing every Bee I see.


I find that the more time I spend in nature, the less I’m bothered by bugs, spiders and small creatures. I’m getting used to hearing their sounds when I go through my favorite haunts. I will say that I’ve always tromped around nature so I’m used to the critters. But it’s the sounds that have always scared me.


Not phobic but a mosquito or horse fly trying to suck my blood when I’m in another country, or a species that’s generally just new for me? Hell yeah! I remember a day in Australia when I was swarmed in mosquitos, and there were multiple species involved. iNaturalist turned that experience from more horrifying to more just, plain interesting.

Same with ticks though I’d rather not see more than one of each species, and even better if it’s not on me! But if it is, well, it’s getting its photo taken at least.


Like many people who spend a lot of time in nature, I’m not very phobic. However, I am NOT fond of spiders. It used to be that seeing close-ups of spiders on iNaturalist sent a shudder through me. Now it’s only a mild startle reaction. :)


I am bad with carnivorous plants. A couple of years ago, I was shaking and I couldn’t speak after being surprised by simply seeing an illustration of a sundew. After seeing quite a lot of photographs of sundews in a short period of time (a friend was uploading his archive), I can deal with pictures of them. I haven’t found one in real life yet though…

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And while I am not a true arachnophobe, I also find spiders close to me unpleasant.
I still do, if they are in my house and they surprise me. But “natural spiders” don’t bother me.

Especially orb weavers, wolf and crab spiders, they don’t seem “spidery” to me. And jumping spiders don’t even register as “spiders” for me, I am comfortable with them being on me.

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I’m not arachnophobic but daddy long legs have always freaked me out(ironic, that a decent subset of what we call “daddy long legs” aren’t even actually spiders). But I’ve gotten a lot better about it since joining inaturalist, especially since they are one of the few bugs that stand still long enough for me to properly photograph.


Well, I do not like being surprised by anything. Oddly, I’m a bit more phobic about larva , simply because I don’t realize what those little monsters might be. Funny, that .

I’ve been really afraid of grasshoppers since I was little. Now, while I’m still not their biggest fan, the thought that comes to my mind first is “Another observation!” rather then panic. I’d call it a win.


i used to be very very nervous around paper wasps. the fear started when i was in elementary school and my friend who i trust to not be randomly cruel to me who was carrying me threw me down and punched me in the shoulder and then shakily explained that a wasp landed on me and looked like it was going to sting me. already being afraid of needles and stuff, i started being really afraid of them stinging me. funny in hindsight, i never even saw the alleged potential attacker. anyway, the fear just kinda stuck with me unchallenged for years. i was never the obnoxious “NOPE kill those jerks!!!” type, but every time i saw one i would promptly get as far away as fast as possible. it might not sting me, but i dont want to risk it!
its specifically paper wasps. i started taking pictures of insects in this patch of weeds in my yard to put on inaturalist, and i had no problem with the scoliids that other people would probably be afraid of because they look like yellowjackets. so id take pictures of all the bees and wasps and anything else, but every time there was a paper wasp i would get really nervous. i would give them a very wide berth and continue doing my thing. it didnt take long for me to question my fear since i never actually got stung, and since they are just minding their business as much as all the others. id never observed them because i didnt want to offend them by looking at them, but i decided i was finally going to do it. i observed a couple of them but again, liberally respected their space, so my pictures were kinda crappy but i was really proud of myself for doing it! and they didnt seem to mind, either! a little bit later, i watched one collect dead plant materials and took some pictures. it didnt care that i was watching it. i started observing them more because i realized they didnt actually mind.
now im so comfortable with them, that when a colony moved into my mailbox, i just left the door open so there would be no surprises, but they didnt bother me at all, and everyone lived in peace there. i think there were too many disturbances though, so they did move out pretty quickly.


Oh definitely! Like most people, I used to be pretty uncomfortable with insects and spiders. Now I see so much pictures a day, and I go out to find my own observations, it definitely helped me getting rid of my crawly-phobia!


I used to be phobic about bees and wasps - now I’m not phobic about bees and much less so with wasps. My first reaction is now mostly to take a photo for iNat instead of to run away.

I’ve never been particularly phobic of anything in the garden but I can’t stand ticks. Mind you where I live, South Interlake region of Manitoba, Canada we don’t have many poisonous things out there. The only snakes I’ve encountered have been garter snakes (must confess to chasing my little sister with one when I was about 14, nasty big sister or what.) I don’t know why I’m less phobic than she was, she was also petrified of spiders, another thing I’ve never understood. One place we lived growing up I can remember being startled by a mouse in the house & my mother saying… why would anyone be afraid of something so small or something to that effect.

Melodie already linked the thread where I told my story, so I will not tell it again in lengh. iNat itself did not help me with my spider phobia, because I did not know it back then, but basically the concept of photographing the spider and trying to find out more about it helped me. If I wanted to I could even go as far as that it shaped my life I am leading now to a not insignificant extent (current carrier, countries I travelled to, partner I life with…). It´s crazy :-D

I was never phobic about any creatures, but iNat has definitely greatly increased my interest in, and respect for, many kinds of groups of organisms which I used not to pay any attention to before I became an iNatter.

Like for example, plant pathogens and plant pests; they all fascinate me now.

I also make an attempt to tackle mosses and lichens, even though I find them difficult.

And no insect is too small to get my respect, as long as my iPhone X can get a halfway decent shot of it.