Why were killer insects so popular in sci-fi?

I loved cheesy horror/sci-fi movies as a kid, everything from The Blob to The Thing.

But what always freaked me out were the movies about bugs. I remember watching the 1977 film Ants, about swarming, poisonous ants, and being terrified there were ants crawling under my bed. I’d have to check carefully every night, and still I was never sure I was safe.


io9.com has an article up analyzing why insects were a sci-fi staple, especially in the atomic age of the 1950s (with giant bugs such as those memorable monsters from Them!), but even later, through the ’70s.


Some think that the fascination—and popularity—had to do with:

–fears of Communism and the reinforcement of trust in an all-powerful US government

–fears of radiation from nuclear fallout

–mistrust in science

–overreliance on chemicals that pervert our natural world.

The article’s conclusion? The popularity of insects as villains was much more simple. That’s when we as a society became more aware of germs and diseases. And pesticides—bug spray, etc—were promoted to get rid of the vermin that were invading our homes.


We were constantly on the lookout for roaches and ants and mosquitoes in our homes and backyards, so naturally they’d morph into something even more insidious.

Whatever the reason, it made for fun and creepy horror stories.

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