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]

Keep Your Cat Busy With a Board Game That Doubles as a Scratch Pad

Cheerble
Cheerble

No matter how much you love playing with your cat, waving a feather toy in front of its face can get monotonous after a while (for the both of you). To shake up playtime, the Cheerble three-in-one board game looks to provide your feline housemate with hours of hands-free entertainment.

Cheerble's board game, which is currently raising money on Kickstarter, is designed to keep even the most restless cats stimulated. The first component of the game is the electronic Cheerble ball, which rolls on its own when your cat touches it with their paw or nose—no remote control required. And on days when your cat is especially energetic, you can adjust the ball's settings to roll and bounce in a way that matches their stamina.

Cheerable cat toy on Kickstarter.
Cheerble

The Cheerble balls are meant to pair with the Cheerble game board, which consists of a box that has plenty of room for balls to roll around. The board is also covered on one side with a platform that has holes big enough for your cat to fit their paws through, so they can hunt the balls like a game of Whack-a-Mole. And if your cat ever loses interest in chasing the ball, the board also includes a built-in scratch pad and fluffy wand toy to slap around. A simplified version of the board game includes the scratch pad without the wand or hole maze, so you can tailor your purchase for your cat's interests.

Cheerble cat board game.
Cheerble

Since launching its campaign on Kickstarter on April 23, Cheerble has raised over $128,000, already blowing past its initial goal of $6416. You can back the Kickstarter today to claim a Cheerble product, with $32 getting you a ball and $58 getting you the board game. You can make your pledge here, with shipping estimated for July 2020.

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The Reason Some People Never Return Shopping Carts, According to Science

Abandoned shopping carts could be a sign of social dysfunction.
Abandoned shopping carts could be a sign of social dysfunction.
adisa/iStock via Getty Images

On the spectrum of aberrant behavior, leaving a shopping cart in the middle of a parking space doesn’t quite rise to the level of homicide. But poor cart etiquette is nonetheless a breakdown of the social fabric, one in which some consumers express little regard for others by failing to return a cart to its proper place. Why does this happen?

In a piece for Scientific American, Krystal D’Costa examined some plausible reasons why shoppers avoid the cart receptacle. It might be too far from where they parked, they might have a child that makes returning it difficult, the weather might be bad, or they might have physical limitations that make returning it challenging. Alternately, they may simply believe it’s the job of the supermarket or store employee to fetch their used cart.

According to D’Costa, cart returners might be motivated by social pressure—they fear a disapproving glance from others—or precedent. If no other carts have been tossed aside, they don’t want to be first.

People who are goal-driven aren’t necessarily concerned with such factors. Their desire to get home, remain with their child, or stay dry overrides societal guidelines.

Ignoring those norms if a person feels they’re not alone in doing so was examined in a study [PDF] published in the journal Science in 2008. In the experiment, researchers observed two alleys where bicycles were parked. Both alleys had signs posted prohibiting graffiti. Despite the sign, one of them had markings on the surfaces. Researchers then stuck a flyer to the bicycle handles to see how riders would react. In the alley with graffiti, 69 percent threw it aside or stuck it on another bicycle. In the alley with no graffiti, only 33 percent of the subjects littered. The lesson? People might be more likely to abandon social order if the environment surrounding them is already exhibiting signs of neglect.

In another experiment, researchers performed the flyer trial with a parking lot that had carts organized and carts scattered around at separate times. When carts were everywhere, 58 percent of people left the flyers on the ground compared to 30 percent when the carts were cared for.

Social examples are clearly influential. The more people return carts, the more likely others will do the same. There will, of course, be outliers. Some readers wrote to D’Costa following her first piece to state that they didn’t return carts in order to keep store workers busy and gainfully employed, ignoring the fact that the primary function of those staff members is to get the carts from the receptacle and back to the store. It’s also rarely their primary job.

Until returning carts becomes universally-accepted behavior, random carts will remain a fixture of parking lots. And ALDI will continue charging a quarter deposit to grab one.  

[h/t Scientific American]