15 votes

Do you crush bugs?

I bought a flyswatter for my girlfriend to deal with a fly she hadn't been able to shoo out but usually we would go to great lengths to capture and release invaders outside, especially spiders whose company we tend to romanticize. I am not feeling especially regretful about the purchase but I got to wondering what opinions people here might have.

I have been influenced toward this concern by the essays I read on Brian Tomasik's Reducing Suffering website, here is the section on invertebrates. I'm self-conscious of stifling this survey with that slightly ponderous link. I am not sure that I always track the calculus of his moral methods, though I appreciate the thoughtful approach.

33 comments

  1. [5]
    post_below
    Link
    Summary of responses: Fuck mosquitoes. I used to disagree, everything has a vital place in the ecosystem. But over time the mosquitoes have campaigned persistently to change my mind. We can have a...

    Summary of responses: Fuck mosquitoes.

    I used to disagree, everything has a vital place in the ecosystem. But over time the mosquitoes have campaigned persistently to change my mind. We can have a nice wake when they're all in hell.

    11 votes
    1. [4]
      vord
      Link Parent
      And they largely wouldn't be missed
      4 votes
      1. [3]
        Thra11
        Link Parent
        It's not a very well written article: it's full of weasel words that try to present a few soundbytes from scientists as a conclusive narrative, when the reality is that most of the people quoted...
        1. It's not a very well written article: it's full of weasel words that try to present a few soundbytes from scientists as a conclusive narrative, when the reality is that most of the people quoted are saying, "We don't know what would happen if we eradicated mosquitos".
        2. Even with the dodgy narrative, I don't think your short summary is representative of the content of the article.
        1. [2]
          vord
          Link Parent
          That's a pretty clear-cut statement, backed with several quotes and sources. They describe in detail the way mosquittos interact with the ecosystems, but that is the ultimate conclusion...yes they...

          Ultimately, there seem to be few things that mosquitoes do that other organisms can't do just as well — except perhaps for one. They are lethally efficient at sucking blood from one individual and mainlining it into another, providing an ideal route for the spread of pathogenic microbes.

          That's a pretty clear-cut statement, backed with several quotes and sources.

          They describe in detail the way mosquittos interact with the ecosystems, but that is the ultimate conclusion...yes they have a role, but usually not exlusively so.

          There is the logistical problem, of course. And yes, maybe we don't need to curb their populations everywhere. We really don't even need to kill them all...just the ones that feast on us.

          Here's a newer article which covers a bit more. Yes, it's more nuanced than my short-hand summary, but my summary is not an unreasonable one.

          We could probably kill off 90% of mosquittos living where people do. Yes, there may be side effects, but unlikely any worse than all the other economic destruction we do in the name of progress.

          1 vote
          1. Thra11
            Link Parent
            Nothing in this article really supports your summary either.

            Here's a newer article which covers a bit more. Yes, it's more nuanced than my short-hand summary, but my summary is not an unreasonable one.

            Webb, [..] had “little doubt” their full extinction could have indirect effects.

            We just don’t know, many of those experts have concluded.

            Phil Lounibos, a University of Florida entomologist, has said that whatever insect rises up to replace mosquitoes could prove “equally, or more, undesirable from a public health viewpoint,” as he told BBC last year. Science writer David Quammen has suggested that mosquitoes protected tropical rainforests in which they thrive, keeping human beings —and deforestation—at bay.

            Nothing in this article really supports your summary either.

            1 vote
  2. Akir
    Link
    No, I just panic generally until someone else takes care of it. The only insects I have real problems with are flyers who get stuck indoors or ants. Flyers get shooed away, but ants get poisoned....

    No, I just panic generally until someone else takes care of it.

    The only insects I have real problems with are flyers who get stuck indoors or ants. Flyers get shooed away, but ants get poisoned. I can generally deal with individual bugs, but entire colonies is when I go genocidal. I keep food sealed so they get attracted to any form of standing water.

    9 votes
  3. [3]
    Omnicrola
    Link
    Most things in my house get crushed. Moths I might let outside, they're helpful pollinators. Earwigs, boxelder bugs, ants, etc, all of them are not welcome, and I will spray inside to keep them...

    Most things in my house get crushed. Moths I might let outside, they're helpful pollinators. Earwigs, boxelder bugs, ants, etc, all of them are not welcome, and I will spray inside to keep them out. I try to avoid spraying chemicals around outside of I can, I want to keep all the pollinators healthy so they can enjoy our butterfly bushes.

    Bees are friends, wasps can get fucked though.

    Spiders are always good housemates that eat other things, unless they land directly on me, then they're dead.

    6 votes
    1. [2]
      post_below
      Link Parent
      Ants are pollinators too!

      Ants are pollinators too!

      2 votes
      1. Omnicrola
        Link Parent
        True, but they're still not welcome house guests. Especially since once one shows up, she invites all her friends to crash at my place too. Bees don't usually do that if they get inside.

        True, but they're still not welcome house guests. Especially since once one shows up, she invites all her friends to crash at my place too. Bees don't usually do that if they get inside.

        5 votes
  4. jcdl
    Link
    In terms of indoor pests, spiders get a pass. Centipedes get brutally crushed. There are some bugs that I'll crush even outdoors. Japanese beetles get their heads snapped off if I find them on my...

    In terms of indoor pests, spiders get a pass. Centipedes get brutally crushed.

    There are some bugs that I'll crush even outdoors. Japanese beetles get their heads snapped off if I find them on my plum trees. Squash vine borer moths get appropriately squashed, those little fuckers.

    6 votes
  5. krg
    Link
    Generally, no. In fact, for a while I had a roach living with me (in my bathroom). It surprised me and I'm sure I let out a defensive "whoa!" when I first saw it in my sink, but I let it be. I'd...

    Generally, no. In fact, for a while I had a roach living with me (in my bathroom). It surprised me and I'm sure I let out a defensive "whoa!" when I first saw it in my sink, but I let it be. I'd see it every so often when I went in to use the restroom/shower/brush teeth/etc. and it kinda became a welcome familiar face, as weird as that sounds. I wondered how the hell it was sustaining itself and also how long a roaches lifespan lasts. Well, I got an answer to that last question a couple of months later when I spotted a sickly looking roach on the floor near my bed, on its back, legs withering in death throes. I had never seen it outside of my bathroom, so I'll romanticize that moment as the roach, having become fond of me, deciding to die by my side.

    I'll squash a bug that bites me, though.

    5 votes
  6. [4]
    asoftbird
    Link
    Mosquitos and fruit flies get the zapper, spiders are left in place(big ones too, spiders are awesome!). If spiders do get in annoying spots l just pick em up with a glass and either set them down...

    Mosquitos and fruit flies get the zapper, spiders are left in place(big ones too, spiders are awesome!). If spiders do get in annoying spots l just pick em up with a glass and either set them down outside or in some dark corner of the house depending on mood. There's not really any toxic spiders here.

    l often find tiny spiders in my hair (got a lot of curls, they just end up in there when l go outside) that dangle down in front of my eyes, mission impossible-style.
    l usually just intercept their 'lil zipline and set them down elsewhere.

    Also, vermin-type bugs like those tiny centipedes that eat paper end up on the wrong side of my can of biological bug killer.

    Oh, and moths are annoying to catch/deal with so l just let those flap around usually. Maybe open a door & turn on the hallway lamp to get them to move elsewhere. l kinda like moths anyway, they're cute. Same for jumping spiders; adorable.

    5 votes
    1. [3]
      Qis
      Link Parent
      Oh gosh I'm growing my hair out, is this a very common experience where you get stowaways? How much hair are you talking about here?

      Oh gosh I'm growing my hair out, is this a very common experience where you get stowaways? How much hair are you talking about here?

      2 votes
      1. viridian
        Link Parent
        Even with short curly hair, I get bugs in my hair semi-frequently from gardening that I don't find out about until I shower.

        Even with short curly hair, I get bugs in my hair semi-frequently from gardening that I don't find out about until I shower.

        4 votes
      2. asoftbird
        Link Parent
        It's about 10" long but curls up to about 4". Also, 1-2 a month.

        It's about 10" long but curls up to about 4". Also, 1-2 a month.

        1 vote
  7. Icarus
    Link
    I do my best to avoid it if possible. They are living creatures and I do my best not to be jury, judge, and executioner for a being that is likely not causing me any harm. I have gone out of my...

    I do my best to avoid it if possible.

    They are living creatures and I do my best not to be jury, judge, and executioner for a being that is likely not causing me any harm. I have gone out of my way to capture and release an assortment of bugs that have tried to take residence in both my home and workplace, leaving the bug's fate up to nature. This stance is a bit at odds though with my significant other who can't stand bugs, notably ants and spiders. This causes me to sometimes have to play the role executioner if there is no other alternative.

    Its just the idea to me that the creature is living and breathing, and I decide to end that so nonchalantly, does not sit well with me. I probably listen to too many Buddhist dharma talks that reinforce this belief and instill a sense of karma when it comes to these actions. I like to think that by showing compassion to even the most insignificant creatures, that the sentiment will be returned to me in some way or another down the line.

    4 votes
  8. [2]
    knocklessmonster
    Link
    It depends on the bug. German cockroaches? Dead. American cockroaches? They go outside because they're a mess to clean up, and aren't generally going to infest a home. Moths, junebugs and...

    It depends on the bug. German cockroaches? Dead. American cockroaches? They go outside because they're a mess to clean up, and aren't generally going to infest a home. Moths, junebugs and craneflies? If it isn't a pantry moth, I release it. Problem is, there's a bush right outside my door the damn things like. I usually only kill things that are known infesting pests.

    I kill wayward spiders, typically because I only seem to find them late at night when I get up to go pee, and I'm not chasing a spider around before I go back to sleep.

    3 votes
    1. happimess
      Link Parent
      +1 on cockroaches: The huge ones only come inside by accident, but an infestation is a completely different story. We part ways at spiders, though. If I see a spider, I give it a brisk nod and we...

      +1 on cockroaches: The huge ones only come inside by accident, but an infestation is a completely different story.

      We part ways at spiders, though. If I see a spider, I give it a brisk nod and we both carry on.

      1 vote
  9. hamstergeddon
    Link
    Unless they're becoming too common inside the house, I generally just don't mess with them. But every year we go through cycles of flies, lady bugs, and stinkbugs everywhere in the house. At that...

    Unless they're becoming too common inside the house, I generally just don't mess with them. But every year we go through cycles of flies, lady bugs, and stinkbugs everywhere in the house. At that point I become Bug Rambo. We also started to see an influx of tiny little fireflies for some reason the past few weeks. Hesitant to give them the Rambo treatment, because fireflies are cool.

    But then there's roaches. Man I do not deal with roaches...little disease factory MFers that live in your walls and crawl on you while you're sleeping. My wife and I's first apartment was infested with German roaches and it set off some bizarre constant state of anxiety in me. We moved as quickly as we could because neither of us could handle how gross that was. 5 years later I still have nightmares where I find a roach in our current house and get panicky.

    3 votes
  10. [3]
    vord
    Link
    Lots of them: Invasive species: Kill on sight, and take every non-poison method to stop their spread. Even poison in highly-concentrated spots. (Looking at you Lanternflies!) Any wasp/hornet...

    Lots of them:

    • Invasive species: Kill on sight, and take every non-poison method to stop their spread. Even poison in highly-concentrated spots. (Looking at you Lanternflies!)
    • Any wasp/hornet looking to make a nest near my home.
    • Fleas, ticks, mosquitos.
    • Basically anything inside the home, although crickets might get moved outside if they're not too persistent. Don't typically spray, just glue traps. Unless they're termites, then purge.

    The rule of thumb is to not use poison unless it's the only way to address the problem. Poisons and pesticides are very much linked to ecosystem destruction, and should be avoided when possible. Hornet nests near the home are best addressed by smoking them out, not spraying with pesticide.

    I've also come to the conclusion that the author of the article you linked is a nutjob, approximately as much as an anti-vaxxer. On this page he advocates against preserving nature. The logic is that because nature is cruel, having less of it is good. Here's some other gems from his site:

    • Earning to give: Rather than working at an altruistic charity yourself, it can be more effective to make money elsewhere and donate large portions of it to charity.
      • This is a 'pass the buck' stance. If everybody did that, we'd all be patting ourselves on the back while nothing actually change. We see this now with 'social media activism.' It is useful, but only as a complement to activism, not in place of it. His first recommendation for charities to donate to is the one he runs. Hmmmm.
    • Don't compost. Instead: avoid wasting food, dispose of food scraps in a sink grinder, or seal food in plastic bags and then put it in the garbage.
      • Yes, food waste is bad. But there's inedible brown/green plant matter, and even small waste of edible (peeled potatoes for example). Compost is how you get nutrients back into the ground after growing crops. Sealing compostable food waste in plastic is bonkers.
    • Reducing your water use may avoid killing tens to hundreds of thousands of crustacean zooplankton per year.
      • There's plenty of reasons to reduce water use. Killing zooplankton in the course of using it is not one of them.
    • A naive analysis that focuses only on the immediate harm caused by humans would conclude that rainforest destruction is net bad for animals. Most veg*ans stop there and don't look further to realize that rainforest loss also plausibly prevents substantial animal suffering that would have occurred due to natural causes.

    It's no surprise that he's a "skeptic." The skeptic movement is a weird one, and I think this blog post sums up why.

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      Comment deleted by author
      Link Parent
      1. vord
        Link Parent
        I agree it's a goldmine for some great discussion, but today is not the day for me to dive into deep discussions. Would love to read up on it afterwards though.

        I agree it's a goldmine for some great discussion, but today is not the day for me to dive into deep discussions.

        Would love to read up on it afterwards though.

        1 vote
    2. Qis
      Link Parent
      Yeah. His youtube channel is equally kooky, lots of footage of bugs he finds randomly near his house and then films for long stretches. I think I follow some of the logics around how to maximize...

      Yeah. His youtube channel is equally kooky, lots of footage of bugs he finds randomly near his house and then films for long stretches. I think I follow some of the logics around how to maximize very specific qualities which are deemed moral goods, but very few of his arguments have seemed plausibly implementable or even especially correct. The internet skeptic community seems to have a hard time taking counterintuition seriously, I find. But anyway I didn't have another source for essays nominally related to this thread and even though I read these over a year ago I still find myself thinking about them pretty frequently as I try to recognize and rationalize my decisions about how to interact with pests.

      1 vote
  11. rish
    Link
    Kill the bloody mosquitoes. I don't care about the rest. Spiders are cool, there web traps bugs. They should be treasured.

    Kill the bloody mosquitoes. I don't care about the rest. Spiders are cool, there web traps bugs. They should be treasured.

    2 votes
  12. MimicSquid
    Link
    It depends. Mosquitoes get killed on sight, as do moths of the sorts destructive to clothes. Everything else gets ushered back outside or left to live their own lives.

    It depends. Mosquitoes get killed on sight, as do moths of the sorts destructive to clothes. Everything else gets ushered back outside or left to live their own lives.

    2 votes
  13. [3]
    wycy
    Link
    I usually vacuum them up with the vacuum hose attachment to avoid wall splatters. I once had the most enormous house centipede I've ever seen that was so large it got stuck in the end of the hose...

    I usually vacuum them up with the vacuum hose attachment to avoid wall splatters. I once had the most enormous house centipede I've ever seen that was so large it got stuck in the end of the hose nozzle for a maybe 10 seconds (panic) until it finally got sucked away.

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      Parliament
      Link Parent
      When I was a kid, we had a guest room in the basement of our house with its own bathroom. I was deathly afraid of that bathroom because of all the night crawlers that would come out of the tub...

      When I was a kid, we had a guest room in the basement of our house with its own bathroom. I was deathly afraid of that bathroom because of all the night crawlers that would come out of the tub drain. Used to be littered with millipede legs.

      1 vote
      1. wycy
        Link Parent
        Hmm if they're coming out of the tub drain, I wonder if this problem could've been fixed by running some water down the drain once a month or so to keep the P-trap filled with water.

        Hmm if they're coming out of the tub drain, I wonder if this problem could've been fixed by running some water down the drain once a month or so to keep the P-trap filled with water.

        1 vote
  14. tesseractcat
    Link
    I use one of these: https://www.amazon.com/BugZooka/dp/B004OHAK5K. Honestly, it's one of my favorite purchases. It makes dealing with most bugs, other than really small or really big ones, as...

    I use one of these: https://www.amazon.com/BugZooka/dp/B004OHAK5K. Honestly, it's one of my favorite purchases. It makes dealing with most bugs, other than really small or really big ones, as simple as a point and a click. I can't imagine going back to the barbaric days of bug crushing.

    2 votes
  15. wervenyt
    Link
    Anything that intentionally bites or will infest my home gets killed, otherwise I generally try to move them gently outdoors. The exception is house centipedes and the various harmless spiders in...

    Anything that intentionally bites or will infest my home gets killed, otherwise I generally try to move them gently outdoors. The exception is house centipedes and the various harmless spiders in my area, with which I'll happily cohabitate.

    Occasionally a harmless brown spider gets confused for a recluse, or a fruit fly gets mistaken for a midge, but I do my best to look before I swat. That isn't to say I don't feel guilty to kill any of these little fellas, and I won't pretend to be justified in it.

    1 vote
  16. m15o
    Link
    Generally no, unless I see a mosquito. Then it's war!

    Generally no, unless I see a mosquito. Then it's war!

    1 vote
  17. mrbig
    (edited )
    Link
    I do if they’re pests. There are lots of o pests in tropical countries.

    I do if they’re pests. There are lots of o pests in tropical countries.

    1 vote
  18. N45H
    Link
    In the answers here I notice a consensus when the subject is mosquitos. Therefore I save my answer about them for the last sentence. Most things in my house will survive - either leaving them be...

    In the answers here I notice a consensus when the subject is mosquitos. Therefore I save my answer about them for the last sentence. Most things in my house will survive - either leaving them be or escorting them outside. I expand this even more into my workplace, where people usually swat and stomp any critters. When I find a little fella in a public spot like a bathroom I often carry them outside. 'Even more' in this case is because I know others would crush it. Living in Switzerland, mosquitos aren't this big of a deal. Biting midges and mosquitos are thus about the same danger level. Meaning they also only die if it's impossible to save them or leave them be.

    1 vote
  19. somewaffles
    Link
    Only two kinds: mosquitoes and spotted lantern flies. The latter are an invasive species we have been dealing with on the east coast of the US for a few years now. They are everywhere and destroy...

    Only two kinds: mosquitoes and spotted lantern flies. The latter are an invasive species we have been dealing with on the east coast of the US for a few years now. They are everywhere and destroy trees and have little-to-no natural predators at the moment.

    Otherwise stuff like crickets, spiders, ants or whatever are fine crawling around the house unless I start to see too many.

    1 vote