If you’re like me, you have absolutely zero tolerance for bugs and household pests. When I see a critter in my house, I immediately squish it—no questions asked. Cockroaches? No. Spiders? Absolutely not! I don’t want any of these creatures living rent-free in my space.
It turns out, though, that I might be too overzealous in my bug-killing mission. Yes, some of those unwanted creatures are nothing but a nuisance, but the following five bugs can actually be helpful to have around your home. So next time, think before you squash.
Whatever you call them (the species’ official name is Pholcus phalangioides), this bug actually does serve a purpose. I know they look creepy, but hear me out.
These leggy bugs are actually carnivores and love to dine on other spiders, including redback spiders and black widows, which can be dangerous to humans. They even eat spider eggs! They also eat insects like mosquitoes (which love to feed on your blood), and aphids (which love to feed on your plants).
And because they also like to feed on dead insects and bird poop, they can help keep your patios and outdoor spaces clean. While they sometimes congregate in clusters during the fall, this only happens for a short period of time and doesn’t cause any structural damage.
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These little arthropods are found all over the world, especially in places with high levels of moisture. So you’ll likely find them in bathrooms, laundry rooms, and damp basements. With a name that means “100 legs,” it’s no surprise that these creatures look like something out of a horror movie.
While they’ll probably always give you the heebie jeebies, centipedes don’t pose any significant threat to either your health or any type of property damage.
In fact, you should refrain from killing them because they offer free pest control by hunting small insects and other arthropods that are hiding out in your house. If you start to see an increase in centipedes, that might be because there’s been an increase in their food source. In other words, this could be indicative of a bigger pest problem in your home.
Ladybugs, with their hard-shelled red bodies, black spots, short legs, wings, and antennae, are definitely cuter than most bugs on this list. Their adorable looks and the fact that they’re a sign of good luck in many cultures are reason enough not to kill them, but that’s not all.
The biggest reason not to kill ladybugs is that they’re absolute gladiators when it comes to fighting off aphids in your garden, mealybugs on your houseplants, and mites in your carpet and upholstery.
There’s just one caveat with ladybugs—don’t let their numbers grow too large. That’s when they can become a problem, and they’ll also emit a foul odor when bothered. Gross.
4. Praying Mantis
Praying mantises—instantly recognizable by their narrow green body, small triangular head, large eyes, and oversized front legs that make them look like they’re deep in prayer—actually make quite obliging companions.
The upside to having a praying mantis in your house is that it will hunt, trap, and feed on pests. They tend to go after flies, moths, mosquitoes, and roaches. The downside is that they sometimes like to lay eggs indoors. To avoid that, gently catch these little guys in your hands and put them outside to help combat any mosquitoes.
For those of you who hate spiders as much as I do, this is probably the last thing you want to hear. But having spiders indoors can be a good thing. Spiders are natural predators, meaning they will actively be targeting and eating other pests, including insects that can carry diseases. Plus, out of thousands of species of spiders, only 30 are known to be venomous to humans, equating to roughly 1/20 of 1% of all spiders.
Of course, many of us are still opposed to having spiders in the house. If you can, capture the spider in your home and set it free outside where it can continue to do its thing in farther proximity from where you sleep.