SEATTLE — Spiders, bloodsuckers and bats haunt our anxieties at Halloween. But these creeping, crawling critters aren't as bad as you may fear. In fact, their tricks can be a real treat.
Take bats, for instance.
"They protect our crops by eating insect pests," said Woodland Park Zoo's Living Northwest Conservation Coordinator Katie Remine.
Remine and her partners from Bats Northwest are recording bats in the wild here at the zoo.
"We have a microphone way up top," she said, pointing to a contraption at the top of a tower.
By keeping track of local bats by cataloging their ultra-high-pitch calls, they hope to help the population thrive for generations to come.
"I've really come to think of bats as heroes," Remine said.
We can all agree that leeches suck.
Animal Keeper Megan Blandford thinks that's a good thing.
"They're sort of nature's little garbage disposals," Blandford said, "They could potentially be your best friend if you need to go in and get some surgery."
Trauma centers actually use medicinal leeches to promote blood flow following appendage reattachment.
"They're pretty neat little guys," Blandford said, "They help out."
The fear of spiders is the most common phobia in the world.
"They're just misunderstood," Blandford said, "I think people don't like them because they don't understand them."
Blandford hopes to turn your arachnophobia into arachnophoria, as we celebrate the many positive traits of fascinating creatures like the zoo's "Rosie," a tarantula.
"She's super nice. She's 20 years old," Blandford said, as the furry little, okay, giant spider crawled just inches from her face.
Rosie poses no threat to humans. In fact, most spiders don't.
Blandford said, "There are very, very few species of spiders that are dangerous, especially here in the Seattle area."
The little eight-leggers keep crop-eating insects under control.
"We couldn't really survive much without them," Blandford said.
If these critters have you running for the hills, just remember how scary good they can be.
Blandford added, "We do a lot more damage to them than they do to us."