Everyone who knows me knows that I’m terrified of bugs. My usual routine for dealing with them includes a massive Raid can and a lot of running. Some insects, like ladybugs, do not bother me, but that’s a bit of a lie. I can admire their beauty from a safe distance, but as soon as one flies at me, all bets are off.
So when I decided to walk into the small enclosure of butterflies in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, I was an anxious mess. My mom and I got to the butterfly pavilion a little late, which did nothing to calm my nerves. Still, the workers assured me it was not a problem and that we could walk around and see the displays outside of the enclosure until the next entrance time came. I walked around, rilling myself up, looking at dead butterflies the size of my hand encased in glass boxes with little informational plaques beside them.
Finally, it was five minutes before we were going into the enclosure. My mother and I lined up with the rest of the visitors where the worker calmly informed us that “hundreds” of butterflies were waiting for us. They also explained that we had to be careful of butterflies that had landed, that we couldn’t touch the plants, and that we could leave whenever.
I went into the pavilion a little calmer than I had anticipated, knowing I could leave whenever I wanted. I stepped carefully, making sure not to crush any butterflies on the floor. A few feet in and things took a bit of a nosedive; some butterflies starting flying close to my face as if they could smell my fear. I tried my hardest not to freak out in front of the other visitors. My mom suggested we sit, so we sat down in front of some plants when a butterfly landed on my headband. I couldn’t see it, but my mom immediately took out her phone to take a picture for me.
We sat down in the hot enclosure for a few more minutes, and the butterfly stuck with me the whole time. More butterflies flew around my head, which I wasn’t thrilled about, but I managed to keep my reactions under control. When we went to leave, a worker took my new friend off my head. We went into a separate room to check ourselves for rogue butterflies, then we left.
I am in no way over my fear of bugs. Nonetheless, sitting in a room full of giant insects flying at my face and even letting one land on me is a big step towards getting comfortable with them, and I am glad I got to experience that.