A recent study from North Carolina State University reveals just how many insects there are living in your home - and the number is shocking.
You may not realize it, but your home is currently hosting an extremely diverse ecosystem. In addition to the human residents, the family dog, and any other animal friends, you’re also likely sharing your space with a large number of arthropods. According to a report from the Washington Post, a recent study from scientists at North Carolina State University reveals that the majority of American homes host a huge collection of different kinds of insects.
The study, published in the journal PeerJ, examined 50 homes within 30 miles of Raleigh, NC. Entomologist Matt Bertone and his research team wanted to study the species of arthropods that make their way inside peoples’ homes and stow away rent-free.
A team of bug-busters donned kneepads and headlamps and crawled around the fifty homes picking up any and every insect they could find. They placed the bugs inside tiny vials of alcohol and labeled them so they could be analyzed at a later time. In total, the research team collected more than 10,000 arthropods of all shapes and species.
The study’s results were put on display in a laboratory at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences’ nature research center. Scientists displayed the bugs discovered in peoples’ homes behind a large glass panel so museum visitors could come and view the bugs as they were analyzed. A microscope was connected to a projector so the researcher’s work was on display in real-time.
Rather than bothering homeowners by making sure they captured each insect inside of a house, researchers described the relative frequencies of the different varieties of arthropods found. Scientists discovered 579 morphospecies, or different types of bugs that can be identified by the shapes of their bodies. The average household had roughly 100 morphospecies present, but the researchers note that the variation across species was huge.
Bertone says that homeowners shouldn’t be scared of a full-scale insect invasion. 98 percent of the homes had book lice, 96 percent hosted dark-winged fungus gnats, and 100 percent of the homes surveyed had cobweb spiders, carpet beetles, ants, and gall midge flies. It was rare to find a spider over an inch long.
So while your house is probably teeming with tiny arthropods right now, there’s no reason to worry. Humans and bugs can coexist peacefully, and most people don’t even notice that they’re there.
A press release from North Carolina State University describing the details of the study can be found here.