What Do Dreams of Insects Mean?

6 Min Read | By Nicholas Barber

Last Modified 22 February 2024   First Added 18 May 2022

This article was written and reviewed in line with our editorial policy.

What Does It Mean to Dream of Insects?

Do insects commonly infest your dreams? If so, you’ll know how disturbing it can feel when you wake up. And you’re far from alone; these creatures often feature in people’s dreams. The good news is that despite many of us finding insects highly unpleasant, this can be a positive dream to have. It’s said to mean you’re set for some good luck, especially in your career.

This dream can also indicate that you’re having an especially productive time, helping you to make the most of it. Dreams about insects can have a wide variety of different meanings depending upon the dream scenarios.

The Dream:

It’s the height of summer and you’re basking in the afternoon sun in your local park, chatting with friends, listening to music and enjoying every minute. Stretched out on a comfy old picnic blanket, you’ve brought along some delicious food and a bottle of bubbly.

But just as you eagerly start tucking in, a huge swarm of flies appears out of nowhere, seemingly intent on spoiling all the fun. They couldn’t be any more annoying. Your picnic is ruined as everything’s covered in flies and you can’t relax. As hard as you try to waft them away with a newspaper, they just keep on buzzing back. Eventually, you give in and decide to go home.

And then you wake up. It was just a vibrant dream, but what could it mean?

Meaning(s) of the dream:

Studying dreams about insects is nothing new. In fact it’s been going on for thousands of years. Artemidorus Daldianus’ Oneirocritica, a five-volume work with over 3,000 dream accounts was written in the 2nd century A.D. Artemidorus viewed insects as symbols of care and anxieties but cautioned that interpretations of dreams depend on their context, and can vary depending on the dreamer.

However, it’s commonly believed that the presence of insects in your dream may be a sign that you’re mentally exhausted and stressed in life, so you should definitely pay them heed. Dreaming about bugs and insects also suggests you have worries about something crawling through your unconscious mind. As such these dreams are symbolic of your fears and anxieties. If you are dreaming about insects in large numbers, it can be a symbol of negative thoughts, guilt or anxiety that is haunting you.

Common meanings behind insect dreams

There are many situations in which insects can appear in your dreams and all of them have very different meanings to your life; from dreaming of being chased or being covered by insects, to catching or killing them.

Here we explore what it means to dream and the meanings behind the most common of these dreams.

Dreaming about flies

Dreams of flies are usually a negative indicator as they represent the spread of disease. One of the insects we encounter the most, their significance is down to their important role in the food chain in helping ecosystems remove residues such as dirt, and as food for other animals. It’s wise to pay close attention if a fly dream appears out of the blue; these insects represent jealousy, insecurity and anxiety. And if one buzzes its way into your mouth take heed, this symbolises that you should pay more attention to what you’re doing.


Dreaming about being bitten by insects

Being bitten by insects suggests a lack of communication between your conscious and subconscious mind. It may be that you’re not being taken seriously in some area of your life and are unwilling to let down your guard. This dream points to your preoccupation and worries over your current goal. You may be undergoing a readjustment period after experiencing some serious personal conflict.

Dreaming about being covered in insects

This is a terrifying dream if you’re one of the many people who are scared of insects. The dream signifies a preoccupation with your body and any health issues you might be facing and have been thinking about. On a professional level, dreaming about being covered in insects reveals that you need change and new challenges in your career.

Dreaming about killing an insect

Dreams about killing insects can have both good and bad connotations. They’re said to suggest you’ll be able to conquer your inner demons and resolve situations that have bothered you for too long. This dream could also mean you’re strong enough to handle the unpleasant situation, even if you don’t realise it.

Answering the dream:

Most people spend their waking hours surrounded by insects. So it makes perfect sense that insects also appear in our dreams as we sleep.

Both the function of dreaming and the meaning of dreams are things that occupy psychologists, biologists and philosophers, and artists too. Sigmund Freud said dreams preserve sleep by protecting the sleeper from external stimulation and by allowing us to safely satisfy our secret wishes. In particular, dreams featuring insects have long been a fascination of medical practitioners, psychotherapists, and writers. This is probably because invertebrates often elicit fear and avoidance responses in humans.

And the association between dreams and insects even extends all the way to insect names, some of which stem from dream-related root words. Enypnium quadripunctatum Kertesz, 1914 is a fly named with the Greek root enypnion, or dream. Oniromyia pachycerata Bigot, 1892 is another species of fly, using the Greek root oneiros, or dream vision.

Notable appearances in popular culture:

“The dreams show something further, not suspected or predicted; the bugs have something to teach. They demonstrate the intentions of the natural mind, the undeviating faith of desire, and the urge to survive” – James Hillman.

Humans have been interpreting dreams about insects for millennia, stretching back to the ancient writings of the diviner Artemidorus in the second century AD. The wealth of insects in dreams that have been documented clinically and culturally is evidence both of the relevance of dreams and to the prevalence of insects in our lives.

Psychoanalytical studies also inspired insect dream paintings by Salvador Dalí. Writing about insects in dreams has created great literature ranging from Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and they appear frequently in the works of Shakespeare and the poetry of Emily Dickinson. Fyodor Dostoevsky, wrote about an insect dream in The Idiot (1869):

I saw the horrible creature, though bitten in two, still wriggling in her mouth and out of its half-crushed body a large quantity of white fluid, similar to the fluid of a crushed black beetle, was oozing out onto her tongue…. Just then I woke up and the prince came in.

Besides great works of art and literature, the insect world has long been a fascination of the film industry, resulting in a host of movies about giant creepy bugs, insects, beetles and crawly critters. The most notable include Kurt Neuman’s 1958 classic The Fly – containing one of the most iconic bugs in cinema history (and later remade staring Jeff Goldblum) and The Swarm (1978) about an invasion of killer bees.

Find out more about dreams that evoke strong emotions by reading our articles on being chased in your dreamwhy your teeth fall out in your dream and what it means to be late in your dream.

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