When you are sitting in solitude at night, watching a scary movie or creepy TV show, any noise out of the ordinary may cause you to jump in fright at the prospect of someone intruding upon your home. Don’t worry, you’re not actually alone: you’re sharing your residence with over 100 species of bugs.
Unlike the mysterious noise, the majority of these insects aren’t malicious, and most are so small you would never notice them. These flies, spiders, beetles, ants, and crustaceans are merely benign cohabitants of your abode. Most found their ways indoors accidentally – be it a cracked window, the prospect of food, or a bright, beckoning light.
Over the course of two years, entomologists at Carolina State University and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences collected bugs from 50 homes, and compiled a list of over 10,000 different species. Another study suggested that bugs are gold-diggers, metaphorically speaking: oftentimes, more bugs are found in the homes of affluent neighborhoods.
This “luxury effect” explains that certain socioeconomic factors – such as the fact that people with more money tend to plant more extensive, exotic gardens and/or live next to people that do the same – influence the local biodiversity (ie, a wider range of bugs are attracted to the home).
This study launched a wide-scale survey of bug existence in homes across the world – Peru, Sweden, and San Francisco – that will continue to expand into 2017, with plans to sample houses in Australia, China, and even Antarctica. This census will help scientists to understand how urbanization shapes ecology and biodiversity. Scientists are aiming to discover if the rules of ecology apply to the man-made environment in the same way they do in the wild. You may never know what made that terrifying noise, but you will soon know more about your microscopic guests that call your home theirs. – Katie Marr