The key to living 'the good life'
Ditching shampoo and going ‘no poo’

The benefits of living with bugs

A friendly huntsman in our pantry. Household spiders prey upon pests such as cockroaches. Little eco footprints

I don’t mind sharing my home with a few spiders. It’s been years since I’ve used insect spray and I’ve never organised a pest control treatment. My main motivation was avoiding chemicals, but I recently learnt that by avoiding pesticides, I may actually be helping to minimise bugs in my home.

Journalist Amanda Hoh recently interviewed University of Sydney biologist Elizabeth Lowe. Elizabeth is studying the influence of urbanisation on the diversity and abundance of spiders and has found that killing household spiders can result in an increase in other pests. ''If we go out there and kill all the spiders, which are natural predators, then the number of cockroaches and mosquitoes are just going to increase''.

Spiders prey upon numerous household pests such flies, silverfish, termites, cockroaches, mosquitoes and moths.

Instead of killing spiders with pesticides, Elizabeth suggest the best treatment is to let them be.

Nicole Bijlsm, author of ‘Healthy Home Healthy Family’, provides some great tips for controlling creepy crawlies in your home without resorting to pesticides:

1. Get rid of their food. Food odours can attracts pests. Clean up after every meal, store pet food in sealed containers, and keep garbage and compost bins away from the house.

2. Get rid of their shelter. Avoid clutter in and around your home.

3. Create a physical barrier to prevent them getting into your home. Seal all gaps and ensure all windows and doors have fly screens.

There’s also a suite of natural pest control options. For example, ants can be deterred by sprinkling pepper, cinnamon or turmeric powder along their trail. I’ve also found ants usually disappear of their own accord after I clean up whatever food they were interested in (usually a jar of honey that wasn’t closed properly). Cockroaches can be controlled by using sticky traps and the good old plastic fly swat is perfect for fly control.

Originally published in my Newcastle Herald column 'Less is More' 26th October 2013.

Are you happy to embrace the benefits of living with bugs - or do you prefer a bug free home?