Swarms of insects

For some time before the onset of [a serious skin rash], I had an experience of seeing these very strange creatures appearing in my dreams... They seemed like visitors from somewhere else... They weren't human looking, except that they did seem to have heads and bodies, but it's more that they had something rather grotesque and alien about them.

On the night before the rash appearing, I had a vivid dream of these creatures flying in a swarm -- a huge swarm -- out of the kitchen. They were all white, and similar to locusts. Over the next few months I kept seeing them in my dreams.

Remarkably, one night I had a dream that all these creatures were dead -- their bodies shrivelled and their wings all dried up. The one one just lay there completely dead. I woke up feeling quite relieved that these creatures wouldn't trouble me anymore.

Jane was right. This was the last she saw of her illness. The creatures who invaded her dreams evidently represent the fungal infection, with their numbers possibly paralleling the number of spores....

Naturally, Jane did not know when the rash was about to start, or when it would finally vanish, but the dreams anticipated both, tracking its onset and returning to lurk as a reminder until the infection's departure.

The Hidden Power of Dreams, Dr. Robin Royston, Page 96


This is another dream continuing the anecdotal evidence that elements in dreams can represent diseases of the body. These images can be, in fact, the primary representation of the dream; i.e., futher symbolic interpretation is unnecessary and unwarranted. The coming and going of these dreams of alien insects parallels a fungal infection.

Interstingly, there is a also a well know parallel between feeling that the skin is crawling with insects and certain disease or drug withdrawal states:

Formication is the medical term for an abnormal sensation named after the feeling of insects crawling on or under the skin. It refers to a specific form of a set of sensations known as paresthesia, along with the more common sensation of "pins and needles" like prickling and tingling. The experience of formication may cause feelings of pain or trigger the scratch reflex. Those suffering from the sensation are at risk of causing skin damage through excessive scratching. Fixating on the sensation may lead to the development of delusional parasitosis in prone individuals, rendering them convinced that it is being caused by actual insects. In reality, formication is a well-documented symptom that has numerous potential causes.


Causes of formication include medical conditions such as diabetic neuropathy, skin cancer, syphillis, or herpes zoster as well as normal states such as menopause (i.e. hormone withdrawal). Formication can also sometimes be experienced during high fevers. Itching, tingling and formication ("the creeps") often occur when surfacing from a dive or during ascent to altitude (decompression sickness).

It can be a rare side effect of many prescription drugs such as Ritalin (methylphenidate), Adderall (dextro/levo-amphetamine) and Lunesta (eszopiclone).

In addition, formication can be caused by the withdrawal component of substance abuse. It is a common side-effect of the extensive use of cocaine or methamphetamine, or the abusive use of amphetamines. Extreme alcohol withdrawal may also cause symptoms of formication, along with delirium tremens, and can often be accompanied by visual hallucinations of insects.

History of the term

Formication is etymologically derived from the Latin word formica, meaning "ant", precisely because of this similarity in sensation to that of crawling insects. The term has been in use for several hundred years. In the 1797 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, a description of the condition raphania includes the symptom:

...a formication, or sensation as of ants or other small insects creeping on the parts.

Described again in an instructional text from 1890:

A variety of itching, often encountered in the eczema of elderly people, is formication; this is described as exactly like the crawling of myriads of animals over the skin. It is probably due to the successive irritation of nerve fibrils in the skin. At times patients who suffer from it will scarcely be persuaded that it is not due to insects. Yielding to the temptation to scratch invariably makes the disease worse.

Wikipedia: Formication


Dream Interpretations from the web: "INSECTS":

To see ants in your dream, signify your general dissatisfaction in your daily life. You are feeling neglected and insignificant. Petty things will annoy you throughout the following day. You need to be more cooperative as this will be the only way to achieve your desires. The dream may also be a metaphor on feeling antsy or restless or it can be a pun on your "aunt".

Ants also symbolize hard work, diligence and industry. Increase business activities are expected. On a less positive note, ants symbolize social conformity and mass action. In this regard, you may feel that your life is too structured and orderly.

According to the biblical interpretations, ants symbolize diligence concerning the things of God. Despite its small size, the ant lays up substance during times of plenty. (Prov 30:25) TOP


Psychological Meaning: Insects symbolise the irritating minor nagging of the unconscious or daily life. You may have many irritating small problems that need to be dealt with. In Kafka’s book Metamorphosis (1912), the terrified sleeper wakes up to discover he has transformed into a bug. Kafka worked most of his life in office jobs that he hated. Symbolically this can represent how working life requires us to form a brittle shell which can eventually takes over the personality completely. Here are a few of the symbolic meanings of common insects: Ants: your life may be too orderly. Ants can represent social conformity. Bees: industry and work. Butterflies: the soul, spiritual transcendence. Flies: breakdown, putrefaction and perhaps guilt. Ladybugs: happiness at work. Locusts: lack of psychological nourishment, your creativity is being destroyed. Wasps: Angry thoughts and feelings.

Mystical Meaning: The ancient Egyptians worshiped the scarab beetle as a symbol of creation. In dreams, it can represent the soul. In some fairytales, insects are called in when things have become impossibly muddled. For example, they may be asked to separate grain mixed with sand or to remove gold dust from the grain. In dreams, they can represent precision and meticulous thinking


There's an insect in your ear, if you scratch it won't disappear. It's gonna itch and burn and sting, you wanna see what the scratching brings." ~ U2, "Staring at the Sun," Pop.

For creatures who are usually tiny, insects have gigantic effects on humans. Sometimes they affect our vision: "bugs" become "giant" to us when they exceed a length of more than an inch or two. Insects inspire both terror and devotion; for some they are sources of phobias, for others, a source of collection and study. For others, insects are a simply a source of irritation and annoyance. Below are some different ways in which insects may manifest in dreams and some links to more information on specific bugs that may have crawled, crept, or flown into your dream.

Insects in the Home

Rarely do we want insects in our homes as they are seen as disease-carrying invaders. Insects can be symbols of vulnerability not only due to their fragile nature, but also because of their ability to make us vulnerable via their bites, stings, and venom.

Houses in dreams are often symbolic of ourselves. Dream houses infested with dream bugs symbolize pretty much what they symbolize in waking life with the only different being that it is the self that is afflicted. They can be symbolic of an illness in the body or mind.

Word Play

The Philip Haas film, "Angels and Insects," made use of word play, secretly revealing the nature of two of the film's characters. Dreams also enjoy employing puns and word play to get their messages across. Is there something "bugging you?" Does it feel like you are being "stung to death" by an emotional wound? Insects are often described as "pests" - is there a person or situation in your like who fits that description?

Anger and Insects

Oftentimes, an angered insect is a stinging insect. Insects in dreams may symbolize your own angry emotions, your desire to hurt someone who you feel is harming you. Insects can may also symbolize frustration, a desire to strike out at someone or something over which you feel you have no control.


While insects normally carry a negative connotation, there is an amazing quality to these creatures - their ability to radical transform. Insects such as the butterfly become completely different creatures going from a lowly worm into an awe-inspiring life form. Other insects undergo similar transformations, but theirs are usually not so pretty. For example, tiny wriggling larvae found in stagnant waters morph into bloodsucking mosquitoes.

While we normally consider transformation a good thing, carefully consider what you are transforming into and ask if that being is really what you want to become.


Flies buzzing, wasps stinging, ants crawling, and gnats in need of swatting can detract from the enjoyment of the outdoors. In dream life insects may be symbolic of minor interferences you are allowing to get in the way of enjoying your life.

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