Do you know about Snopes.com? If you’re an Internet smarty-pants, you probably do. You see something on Facebook — usually in the form of a
meme or a well-circulated “news” story from a less-than-reliable online publication — that sounds a little to good/bad/strange to be true. You click over to snopes.com (which, you naturally have bookmarked) and do a search for the key terms. Let’s say you read a meme that says “Irrefutable Evidence of UFOs Released by CIA.” It cites a “source” (maybe even a legit one, like NPR or CNN) and then runs down some bullet points of “evidence.”
You search: “UFO CIA evidence” and arrive at a link to the Snopes page addressing the legitimacy of the obviously (?) bogus claim. And there they have it all spelled out for you: the claim, its origins, and whether or not the assertion is fact, fiction or a combination of both.
Where am I going with this? Well, one Facebook meme I recently stumbled across informed me that there’s documented evidence of a praying mantis attacking and killing a hummingbird at a backyard hummingbird feeder. Hmm, I thought. That kinda’ sounds like bull, but who knows? So off to Snopes I went, where I found that, indeed, this had actually happened, and has been documented and photographed. HOWEVER, it’s extremely rare. So, in an attempt to discredit a Facebook friend (Shame on me.), I got schooled myself. … But Snopes, I’m delighted to say, cuts the other way too.
For example, perhaps someone related this horrific new trend in teen drug taking to you. “SMOKING BED BUGS TO GET A CHEAP HIGH,” read the breathless headline. You know your pests, obviously, and you’d never heard such a thing, but you may not be an entomologist sooooo … the chemical makeup of a bed bug and it’s potential hallucinogenic properties may go beyond your expertise. Stranger things have happened (bath salts … remember that?). Be thankful, then, that Snopes provides you with all you need to know about the widely circulated report, which often came complete with a very convincing local news clip. BUT …
I keep Snopes bookmarked because I use it regularly to shame those who don’t do their Internet research before posting an untrue viral meme. (Not very nice, but KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!) Without Snopes, how could I be sure that Swiffer floor cleaners won’t kill my pets? You never know when a customer will come at you with some old wives tale about a particular pest that you have to debunk. I don’t recommend “shaming” your customer, but if they tell you they’re canceling a fly treatment because their neighbor told them sealed plastic bags of water containing a penny should do the job nicely … there’s nothing wrong with saying: “Well, actually, that’s a common misconception and here’s some evidence.”
Some fun tangentially pest-related Snopes entries:
California law requires state residents to obtain hunting licenses before setting mousetraps!
Opossums kill most deer ticks they encounter and thus inhibit the spread of Lyme disease to humans!
Killing a Praying Mantis is illegal in the U.S.!
Rat Meat Sold as Chicken Wings!