Researchers found more than 500 different types of arthropods in the houses during a large-scale study.
You are not the only one living in your house. Hundreds of different types of creepy, crawly bugs are also busy inside your house. That is what new research suggests.
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California-based researchers conducted an extensive large-scale study to find out the biodiversity of insects living in average US house and have found that there are more than 500 different kinds of arthropods including insects, spiders, mites and centipedes coexisting with humans.
"This was exploratory work to help us get an understanding of which arthropods are found in our homes," said Matt Bertone, an entomologist at North Carolina State University. "Nobody had done an exhaustive inventory like this one, and we found that our homes host far more biodiversity than most people would expect."
Arthropods are invertebrate animals with an external skeleton, segmented bodies and jointed limbs.
A combined team of researchers from NC State University, California Academy of Sciences (CAS) and North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences visited 50 houses located in Raleigh, North Carolina in 2012 and inspected each and every room of the house in order to collect all types of arthropods existing in a structure including the dead ones.
Researchers have found no less than 579 different morphospecies of arthropods across the 50 houses. On average, a house had around 100 distinct morphospecies inside it while the most common;y found insects are flies, spiders, beetles, ants and book lice. Morphospecies are the species that can be easily distinguished from other species by their structure.
The results indicate a surprisingly diverse ecosystem within each house but not all of the insects were actually living inside the house. Few were brought somewhere from outside and could not survive indoors.
"Many of the arthropods we found had clearly wandered in from outdoors, been brought in on cut flowers or were otherwise accidentally introduced. Because they're not equipped to live in our homes, they usually die pretty quickly." Bertone said.
Researchers suggest that having so many insects inside your house is nothing to be scared of. Most of these insects are not harmful to humans or harmful to their health.
“The vast majority of the arthropods we found in homes were not pest species," said Bertone. "They were either peaceful cohabitants - like the cobweb spiders (Theridiidae) found in 65 percent of all rooms sampled - or accidental visitors, like midges and leafhoppers (Cicadellidae)."
This is the first large-scale research of such kind and it will possibly open up a new avenue for studying arthropods living in homes.
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"This is only a first glimpse into the species that live in our homes, and more work needs to be done to flesh this picture out," said Michelle Trautwein, co-author of the study. "But these insights give us the opportunity delve down into some exciting scientific questions. Now that we have a better idea of which species are most common in homes, we can focus on studying them…And we can also begin to explore their traits to see if they share evolutionary characteristics that have made them better suited to live with humans.”