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]

Why You Should Never Charge Your Phone in Public USB Ports Without a USB Data Blocker

Creative-Family/iStock via Getty Images
Creative-Family/iStock via Getty Images

The USB charging ports that have popped up at airports, coffee shops, and even outdoor stations around cities in recent years are definitely a lifesaver when your smartphone is down to its last bit of juice. A dead phone is annoying at best and downright dangerous at worst, so it’s totally understandable why you’d jump at the chance to revive it at your earliest opportunity.

However, those public ports might not be as benevolent as they seem. According to Afar, hackers can load malware onto those stations—or on the cables left plugged into the stations—which can then deliver passwords and other data right from your device to the hacker’s. If you have used a public port recently, don’t panic; TechCrunch reports that these cases are fairly rare. Having said that, it’s definitely better not to risk it, especially considering what a nightmare it would be to have your identity stolen.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office explains that the easiest way to prevent becoming a victim of this type of scam, often referred to as juice-jacking, is simply to abstain from using public USB charging ports. Instead, invest in a portable charger, or plug your own charger into an actual AC power outlet.

But unoccupied power outlets are notoriously hard to come by in public places, and portable chargers themselves can also run out of battery life. Luckily, there’s a small, inexpensive device called a data blocker that will enable you to use public USB charging ports without worrying about juice-jacking. It looks a little like a flash drive with an extra slot, but it lacks the two wires usually found in USB chargers that can download and upload data. That way, your device will charge without transferring any information.

You can get two of them for $11 from Amazon here.

[h/t Afar]

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The Ingenious Reason Medieval Castle Staircases Were Built Clockwise

Shaiith/iStock via Getty Images
Shaiith/iStock via Getty Images

If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones or medieval programs in general, you’re probably familiar with action-packed battle scenes during which soldiers storm castles, dodge arrows, and dash up spiral staircases. And, while those spiral staircases might not necessarily ascend clockwise in every television show or movie you’ve watched, they usually did in real life.

According to Nerdist, medieval architects built staircases to wrap around in a clockwise direction in order to disadvantage any enemies who might climb them. Since most soldiers wielded swords in their right hands, this meant that their swings would be inhibited by the inner wall, and they’d have to round each curve before striking—fully exposing themselves in the process.

Just as the clockwise spiral hindered attackers, so, too, did it favor the castle’s defenders. As they descended, they could swing their swords in arcs that matched the curve of the outer wall, and use the inner wall as a partial shield. And, because the outer wall runs along the wider edge of the stairs, there was also more room for defenders to swing. So, if you’re planning on storming a medieval castle any time soon, you should try to recruit as many left-handed soldiers as possible. And if you’re defending one, it’s best to station your lefties on crossbow duty and leave the tower-defending to the righties.

On his blog All Things Medieval, Will Kalif explains that the individual stairs themselves provided another useful advantage to protectors of the realm. Because the individual steps weren’t all designed with the same specifications, it made for much more uneven staircases than what we see today. This wouldn’t impede the defenders, having grown accustomed to the inconsistencies of the staircases in their home castle, but it could definitely trip up the attackers. Plus, going down a set of stairs is always less labor-intensive than going up.

Staircase construction and battle tactics are far from the only things that have changed since the Middle Ages. Back then, people even walked differently than we do—find out how (and why) here.

[h/t Nerdist]

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