Our houses act as unique ecosystems; the average home contains around 100 different species of arthropods. A team of researchers from the California Academy of Sciences, North Carolina State University, and the Natural History Museum of Denmark compiled a survey that aimed to study trends of insects living in our homes. They counted the number of different insect species throughout urban homes and found that the richer the neighborhood was, the greater the variety of insect types there were in the homes.
The team of researchers collected samples from 50 homes in Raleigh, North Carolina. They thoroughly searched the homes, equipped with headlamps and knee pads, and then identified the insect species in the lab using microscopes. The team factored in average neighborhood income, homes’ square footage, size, surrounding vegetation, and more.
Homes, in a way, act as insect traps. Insects from the surrounding land find their way into houses, where they sometimes stay. One explanation for the correlation between neighborhood wealth and bug species is that in wealthy neighborhoods, there are a wider variety of plants, and therefore a greater number of insects, which then wander into nearby homes. Parks and communal landscaping in affluent neighborhoods may also contribute to the greater insect diversity.
Neighborhood affluence, as we know from the study, is one of the strongest predictors of the number of bug types. It adds to previous studies, which have observed that there is more biodiversity across plant, bird, bat, and lizard species in high-affluence areas. Scientists have coined this phenomenon as the “luxury effect.”
A commonly held misconception is that most of the insect species that invade our homes are pests. We spend billions of dollars per year to control infestations of cockroaches, ticks, termites, and other harmful bugs, but there are many overlooked species that do not cause us or our homes any harm. The researchers who conducted this study hope to better understand the bugs that live with us. They are continuing their research in places like Australia, Madagascar, China, and Antarctica through 2017. Lastly, if you want to increase the insect diversity in your home, you can also just visit our store.