What We’re Reading, Learning, and Watching this June

Aunt Fannie Blog

Aunt Fannie’s founder Mat Franken is one curious dude. He’s constantly scanning headlines, chatting with people in the know, and keeping his eyes open for new ways to understand, explore, and appreciate the microbiome, great health, safer housekeeping, and the large and small ways we’re all connected. Here’s what’s on his list of discoveries this month: speaking up for the spiders, paper that’s saving the world, probiotic skincare, and a few dozen mice paving the way for our mission to Mars.

Why spiders are secretly great roommates (via Popular Science)

We get it, seeing a spider drop from the ceiling in the corner of the room can be freaky, but there are a few great reason to let them live and continue to do their thing. According to Matt Bertone, an Extension Associate in Entomology at North Carolina State University who studied the spiders in 50 NC homes, 


spiders are usually secretive, prefering to avoid you and your big, scary body, and almost all you meet are neither aggressive nor dangerous. Even more compelling? Those arachnids provide free pest-control services! Spiders are great at reducing the number of disease-carrying insects like mosquitoes from your home. The next time you see a spider, try adopting a live-and-let-live approach, or capture it and set it free outside to continue doing its good work. 

Two kinds of paper that are killing the bad bugs and saving the good (via Ad Age and Fast Company)

In Brazil, Habitat for Humanity is fighting mosquito-borne illness in Brazil with a brilliant street art and education concept: printing posters made with environmentally-friendly larvicide applied on soluble rice-paper sheets with an organic glue. 

These posters (which offer great community advice for preventing mosquitoes from thriving) dissolve in the rain, killing mosquito larvae for up to 60 days! In other paper-related inventions, Bee Saving Paper is made with a type of energy-rich pulp that’s used to feed bees over the winter, and a single pound of this pulp can feed several thousand bees! Bee lovers are hoping to spread the use of this paper in  food packaging, coffee cup sleeves, parking tickets, bags, writing paper, and even picnic plates (tinted with ink that’s invisible to the human eye but glows like a field of wildflowers to the pollinators) to create bee rest stations wherever they land as an attempt to keep the world’s bees around, fed, and happy.

Who’s who in probiotic skincare (via Business Insider)

Probiotics are being unleashed from the pill bottle and pickle jar! We love seeing the ways food-based ingredients and probiotics are making a difference in all fields of health, which is why we loved this list of dermatologist-picked skincare products made with the microbiome in mind. Dr. Whitney Bowe, dermatologist and author of “The Beauty of Dirty Skin” (which is now on our reading list) makes a great case for skipping the toxic products and microbiome-slaying ingredients: “When you perpetually use harsh antibacterial soaps and cleansers, you strip the skin of its healthy bacteria—and you upset your skin’s healthy microbiome, which results in breakouts, rosacea flares, psoriasis, eczema, and more issues that are likely to be met with more soap and cleansers.” You can end the cycle by opting for products like Mother Dirt’s AO+ Mist made with a live “peacekeeper” strain of bacteria or Aleavia Restore Soothing Mist packed with prebiotics.

Mouse microbiomes in space! (via Northwestern Now)

20 mice twins are en route to the International Space Station to help researchers understand the impact of zero gravity conditions on the gut microbiome in an effort to prepare us for long-term space travel. Northwestern University scientists also hope to discover more about how space affects circadian rhythms and other physiological systems. According to lead researcher Fred W. Turek, “this rodent research mission is analogous to the Year in Space human twins study, but we will in effect be working with 10 identical siblings from two different families [of mice, that is]. Because a trip to Mars and back is expected to take several years, we need to determine how the gut’s microbiota might be altered in zero gravity over long timescales.” One small step for a mouse, one giant leap for the microbiome!