Squelch the Urge to Squash

Flyby Sarah at ProgressiveKid

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be
judged by the way its animals are treated.”

—Mahatma Gandhi

Most bugs in our homes are not harmful. Why kill them? Here are some good reasons not to:

  1. If you want an empathetic kid, model empathy. Empathy is not selective. It is being able to see the life connection in all living things, not just the ones you think are cute.
  2. If something is not harming you, then there is no reason to defend yourself against it.
  3. Spiders are our friends—they catch many insects, including disease-carrying ones. An average spider will kill 2,000 insects per year. In fact, spiders are being used for pest control in some agriculture, such as organic cotton farming. David Richman, of the Department of Entomology at New Mexico State University, writes, “Spiders are numerous enough in agricultural fields (sometimes literally thousands or millions to the acre) that they serve to dampen insect numbers, often including pest species, because these are often the most common insects.” He estimates the global benefits of spiders and predatory insects at more than $100 billion per year. Most spiders—there are 50,000 species—are not poisonous or venomous to humans, and yet they get a bad rap and get blamed for bites they had nothing to do with, such as flea and bedbug bites. (Click this link to identify venomous and poisonous spiders.) At PK, we use the Spider Relocator to move venomous spiders safely to a better place.
  4. We need bees. They are the primary pollinators in one-third of the world’s crops. The recent colony collapse disorder affecting European honeybees has raised human awareness of the need to protect bees, especially from pesticides. They don’t want to be in our homes any more than we want them to. (The Spider Relocator easily traps them so you can release them outdoors where they can do their important work.)
  5. There are plenty of effective ways to keep many unwanted insects and spiders from annoying you and endangering you or your home that don’t involve killing them:
    • Install window and door screens.
    • Plug up access points.
    • Mosquitoes don’t like certain scents. Badger Balm Anti-Bug Balm smells good to us, but the little stingers don’t like it. Fresh mint also works.
    • Disrupt the scent trail for ants. Simply rub away the trail they’re following for about a yard’s length. Make sure to remove the source of their interest or they’ll be back.
    • If you have moths in your closet, once a year take all your clothes out and hang them in the sun for a day.
    • Remove sources of moisture in your walls that can attract termites. Without the moisture, they’re not interested.
    • Use a Spider Relocator to move trapped bees, flies, and the spiders you’d rather not have in your home to the outside.

Most important, don’t use chemical pesticides. Chemical pesticides cause widespread health problems. Many agrochemicals devastate human and animal populations, causing birth defects, cancer, brain and organ damage, and reproductive and immune disorders. They are perhaps at least partly responsible for the recent decline of bee populations.

Besides, catching and releasing bugs is fun. When using the Spider Relocator properly, kids learn gentleness and empathy. They can look at the bugs up close in the tube before releasing them. You can help them avoid crippling phobias by modeling interest in and respect for insects and arachnids.

Photo credit: US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

©2007 ProgressiveKid. May not be reprinted or redisplayed without permission.

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