It seems that I am not alone in my fear of spiders. In a survey of 2,000 Britons by HomeServe, the home emergency experts, respondents were asked to rank their fear response to several common household pests out of 10, and the answers were used to calculate the fear index – a definitive table of the creepiest crawlies.
Spiders topped the table, closely followed by hornets and rats.
Ironically the UK is the safest place for spiders. Apart from a few nasty, biting rogue imports like the Black Widow and the Brazilian Wandering Spider which hitchhikes on bananas the common house spider will only hurt a fly.
The Fear Index – Which Pests are the Most Feared in the UK?
1. Spiders 67%
2. Hornets 65%
3. Rats 64%
4. Wasps 58%
5. Cockroaches 55%
6. Mosquitoes 51%
7. Foxes 49%
8. Mice 35%
9. Fleas 13%
10. Pigeons 13%
11. Slugs and Snails 12%
12. Moths 8%
13. Flies 6%
14. Ants 4%
Almost 1 in 10 (9.4%) of households reported rats invading their homes and gardens, with a massive 87% stating that they believed there had been an explosion in rat populations in their area over the past decade. Population increases were reported across a wide range of pests – in particular, UK homeowners felt that wasps, mosquitoes, foxes and mice were booming in numbers.
Many also reported seeing new, larger or foreign species of pests, with the rising worries over stinging insects attributed to newspaper reports of invading exotic species such as harlequin ladybirds and Chinese hornets. 67% noted a marked increase in the size of rats, with many stating that they were now scared of rats where they had not been before.
When encountering a wasp or hornet in their home, 56% of respondents said that they would either open the window and leave the room, or tell their partner to deal with it – and the bravery of British men was called into doubt as figures showed that they were just as likely to pass the buck to their wives and girlfriends as vice versa.
Between 32 and 33% of either sex chose this option. When dealing with rodents, the majority of Britons like to call for a pest control expert or use ‘humane’ traps. 7% claimed that they would kill a mouse or rat “with their bare hands”, although details were not forthcoming.
When asked if they considered their phobias to be rational or irrational, the majority described their fear of wasps and hornets as rational, while 74% admitted that their arachnophobia was perhaps not a logical response, despite greater numbers suffering from this phobia than any other.