The Reason You Shouldn’t Kill the Spiders in Your House, According to an Entomologist

CBCK-Christine/iStock via Getty Images
CBCK-Christine/iStock via Getty Images

Even if you’re not a full-blown arachnophobe, your reaction to spotting a spider skittering across your floor is probably some combination of shrieking and whacking it with the nearest shoe. Next time, you should just take a deep breath, tip your hat, and let the eight-legged critter continue on its merry way.

Though you might prefer to believe that spiders rarely find their way into your immaculately clean home, that’s almost definitely not the case. In an article for The Conversation, entomologist Matt Bertone and his colleagues at North Carolina State University surveyed 50 North Carolina homes and found spiders in every single one. The truth is, Bertone says, spiders are important to our indoor ecosystems. Since they’re generalist predators, they’ll pretty much eat anything, from the dead fly on your window sill to the mosquito that had planned to make a midnight snack out of your face. Sometimes, they’ll even eat other spiders. So whether a spider is just passing through your house or has taken up permanent residence in the upper corner of your closet, it’s definitely working for room and board.

Also, the spiders in your house likely aren’t the terrifyingly huge, mammal-devouring specimens that make great headlines. In their inventory, Bertone and his team primarily found common house spiders, like harmless cobweb spiders and cellar spiders. While most spiders are venomous, their venom often isn’t strong enough to affect you, and their fangs are often too small to pierce your skin. And if you shudder at the thought of spiders crawling over you when you’re sleeping, keep in mind that’s not likely, either—our snoring, rustling, and even plain breathing are enough to keep them from investigating further.

So remember, just because you can’t see the spiders in your home doesn’t mean they’re not there, and besides, they’re working hard to make your home an insect-free habitat for you. If you still can’t bring yourself to let one scurry away to who-knows-where, consider releasing it outside, where it can secure the perimeter from disease-carrying pests.

[h/t The Conversation]

The Reason Why Baking Makes You Feel Good, According to Psychologists

Liderina/iStock via Getty Images
Liderina/iStock via Getty Images

Whether you're nibbling a slice of zucchini bread or an extra-chewy chocolate chip cookie, it’s always fun to be the taste tester for a friend or relative who loves to bake. And, while eating products created with love (and sugar) probably makes you feel good, the baker is reaping some psychological benefits, too.

Studies have shown that creative activities like baking and knitting contribute to an overall sense of well-being. Boston University associate professor of psychological and brain sciences Donna Pincus told HuffPost that there’s “a stress relief that people get from having some kind of an outlet and a way to express themselves.”

Baking is also a great way to practice mindfulness, because it requires you to focus on following very straightforward directions in a specific order. In other words, most of the decisions have already been made for you, allowing you to concentrate on the details while nudging your mind away from the stressors and anxieties of your life outside the kitchen. Julie Ohana, a licensed clinical social worker and culinary art therapist, explained to HuffPost that baking is therapeutic because it helps you practice the “balance of the moment and the bigger picture.” While you’re measuring and mixing ingredients, you’re probably visualizing how they’ll all come together to create a fulfilling final product, and deciding how and when you’ll share it with others.

Sharing your desserts—altruistically rather than for attention or competition—is another mood-booster, making you “feel like you’ve done something good for the world, which perhaps increases your meaning in life and connection with other people,” Pincus said. It can also function as a mode of communication. Susan Whitbourne, professor of psychological and brain sciences at the University of Massachusetts, told HuffPost that “it can be helpful for people who have difficulty expressing their feelings in words to show thanks, appreciation, or sympathy with baked goods.”

If baking just isn’t for you, that’s OK, too—try one of these other stress-reducing tactics instead.

[h/t HuffPost]

The Reason Why Objects in a Car’s Side-View Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear

aydinozcanbaz/iStock via Getty Images
aydinozcanbaz/iStock via Getty Images

“Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.” It's a warning you see in basically every car, but why can't passenger-side mirrors display objects accurately? Well, it's actually a careful design choice made with safety in mind.

The way we see things is dependent on how light reflects off objects around us. An object's color, texture, shape, and other characteristics influence the direction and intensity of light that bounces off them. If the objects are reflected off an intermediate object, like a mirror, our perception of the original object may be distorted.

The shape of the mirror also makes a difference in our perception. In the U.S., passenger-side mirrors are convex (curved slightly outward), whereas driver-side mirrors are flat. A convex mirror placed on the passenger side reduces the driver's blind spots on that side of the vehicle by presenting a wider field of view, but it also makes other cars appear farther away due to a slight distortion caused by the shape. The flatter mirror on the driver’s side produces a more accurate depiction of what’s behind the car with a more narrow field of view, since light bounces off in the same direction that it hits the mirror and doesn't distort the reflection of the object.

When the two mirrors' reflections are combined in the driver's point of view, drivers have the ability to both see wider areas on the passenger side while keeping their eyes (mainly) on the road. The flat-convex combo has been the U.S. standard for years, though the U.S. Department of Transportation is looking into the safety benefits of two convex mirrors, which European cars usually sport.

For now, always remember to check your mirrors frequently, and look over your shoulder before you change lanes. (Don't forget your turn signal!)

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER