This is a sample of The Echidna newsletter sent out each weekday morning. To sign up for FREE, go to theechidna.com.au The angel of death was hovering. As its wing brushed my cheek, I jolted awake with an ear-piercing shriek. My time had come. "It's only a moth," she sighed. "It won't hurt you." Half an hour of cursing and swatting followed. Thirty minutes of irrational dread as she somehow went back to sleep. Alright for you, my inner voice hissed as I hunted down the intruder. You who have no qualms about eating deep-fried tarantula in Cambodia. You who will happily stand too close to sheer drops as my knees buckle from vertigo. You who can sleep through my version of hell. Mottephobia is one of my many shortcomings. It makes no sense. Most insects don't bother me. Huntsman spiders are not only welcome but are given names when they take up residence in the house. Oscar and Lucinda were treated more like pets than problems during their stay. Happily, I've never suffered katsaridaphobia (fear of cockroaches). Other people - otherwise fearless - will refuse to enter a room if they so much as suspect a cockroach may be lurking there. Even pictures of them on pest control vans trigger anxiety. Mosquitoes kill people but cockroaches inspire more visceral fear. I once stood in a cave in Vietnam populated by so many cockroaches, their movement sounded like loud static from a radio. The place was alive with them. They crunched underfoot and stank like a long-drop dunny in a heatwave, thanks to the uric acid they store in their bodies. Not a pleasant experience, granted, but not terrifying for me. Much scarier were the bats which shared the cave. A bat in a cave, where it should be, is one thing. A bat in the house is an entirely different matter. A microbat fluttered into our home a couple of years ago and it was every person for themselves. She who fears little screamed like a banshee and barricaded herself in the bedroom, leaving muggins here to deal with the horror. Worse, she laughed hysterically listening to my futile efforts to hustle it back outside. These creatures navigate by radar. Ten pulses of high-frequency sound per second when cruising, up to 100 when hunting insects, but I could find no estimate of how many pulses they emit when brooms, mops, buckets and towels are launched in their direction. What I do know is, these skilled flyers pack more evasive countermeasures than an F-35 fighter. My fear of them is not full-blown chiroptophobia because I have no issues when I occasionally encounter them outside and there is no risk of them getting caught in my hair. Discussing these fears last week, I spoke to people who dreaded frogs (ranidaphobia), birds (ornithophobia) and snakes (ophidiophobia). A good mate, who also suffers from aromaphobia - mention the words chilli and spice and he breaks into a sweat - screamed as if he'd been shot and launched himself into low orbit after treading on a snake, only to discover it was a length of black poly pipe he'd left in the garden. "I almost s**t myself. It was so embarrassing," he said. "I hoped no one had seen it but, of course, [his wife] Wendy saw the whole thing and I've never lived it down." His story reminded me of a flight back from Hong Kong. For hours I stared anxiously at a moth on the bulkhead in front of us. "It better not fly my way," I grumbled. "I swear it's looking at me." Getting off in Sydney, I noticed another in exactly the same place on the other side. They were triangular stickers. It might be irrational but the fear is real. So real, in fact, there's even a phobia of being afraid. It's called phobophobia. Should I ever succumb to that, I'll never leave the house again. Unless there's a moth in it. HAVE YOUR SAY: What's your biggest fear? Are there creatures that fill you with inexplicable dread? Have you ever taken steps to conquer a phobia? Are you the person who deals with cockroaches in your home? Or the person who pleads for help? Email us: email@example.com SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoy The Echidna, forward it to a friend so they can sign up, too. IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: - Former X Factor favourite and Home and Away actor Johnny Ruffo has died aged 35 after a battle with brain cancer. The Perth-born singer, songwriter, dancer, actor and television presenter also won Season 12 of Dancing with the Stars in 2012. Mr Ruffo was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2017 which returned in 2020. He was with his family and partner Tahnee Sims when he died peacefully, a post to Ruffo's Instagram page announced on November 10. - Thousands more defence workers must be added to the South Australian industry as the federal government takes a major step towards the construction of the long-awaited AUKUS nuclear submarine fleet. Amid the dry docks and slipways of the Osborne naval shipyard in Adelaide's north, Acting Prime Minister Richard Marles and South Australia's Premier Peter Malinauskas unveiled a plan to boost the STEM skills needed for the state's defence industry workforce. - Logging in native forests across NSW has cost the taxpayer millions to support as critics call on the government to join Victoria and Western Australia in phasing out the industry. The state's main supplier of native timber received around $250 million in grants since 2020, while its hardwood division lost nearly $30 million in the last two years, according to a report released on Friday. THEY SAID IT: "The fear of vomiting, which for me is one of the most original and most acute of my fears, is actually fairly common. Emetophobia, it's called, and by some estimates, it's the fifth most common specific phobia." - Scott Stossel YOU SAID IT: Bringing John Lennon's voice back from the dead shows how artificial intelligence can keep memory alive. "I would not want AI to impersonate a dead loved one," writes Terry. "When you die you are 'dearly departed'." Loretta writes: "My husband died in the passenger seat while I was driving him to Albury Hospital in NSW. We had a property between Holbrook and Tumbarumba and my husband was fencing with our neighbour and he had chest pain all day. When the Elders agent came out and went up to the two men fencing he told my husband to go home. He didn't come home until they had finished. I drove him over to the Albury Hospital but he died in the passenger seat 15 minutes out. I was 28, our daughters in the back were five, four and one. He was 43. It has been 35 years since." "I think I will start recording hubby's voice in preparation for the future," writes Samantha.