Bugs prefer certain houses, rooms over others

A group of researchers have discovered the different factors that may bring insects into a home.
By Ian Marsh | Nov 14, 2017
A new study of 50 urban homes in Raleigh, North Carolina shows that bugs have preferred conditions when choosing which home -- and room -- to settle in.

The research comes from scientists at the California Academy of Sciences, who set out to uncover what draws bugs to certain houses. They discovered that, while insects are found across the world in a variety of different houses, there are certain conditions bugs favor.

To make this discovery, the team looked at 50 houses and documented what insects lived in what rooms. This showed that entire biological communities lived different sections of the home depending on what best served their species.For instance, basements were perfect for mites, camel crickets, millipedes, and ground beetles.

In addition, the common areas of the house, such as living rooms, tended to have a greater variety of insects than bathrooms, bedrooms, or kitchens. The team also found that bugs prefer ground to higher levels, and carpets to hardwood floors.

Another surprising discovery was that, with the exception of cellar spiders, cleanliness seemed to have no impact onthe variety of bugs that lived in the homes. Pets also did not bring more insects into a house.

"Even though we like to think of our homes as shielded from the outdoors, wild ecological dramas may be unfolding right beside us as we go about our daily lives," said lead author Misha Leong, a postdoctoral researcher at the California Academy of Sciences, in San Francisco, according to UPI. "We're learning more and more about these sometimes invisible relationships and how the homes we choose for ourselves also foster indoor ecosystems all their own."

Though most people do not like the idea of insects in their home, growing research suggests their presence could contribute to human health. Spending time indoors may prevent people from being exposed to helpful microorganisms, and insects could help spread microbial diversity.

The team also notes that most of the time bugs are not looking to stay inside. Rather, they typicallyuse houses as a way to get from one outdoor spot to another.

"We're beginning to see how houses can be a passive go-between for insects traveling through the surrounding landscape," said study co-author Michelle Trautwein, an insect specialist at the California Academy of Sciences, according to Tech Times. "The more numerous the entry points of windows and doors, the more diverse the community that thrives inside."

The findings were published in Scientific Reports.

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