In a disturbing new study conducted by United States scientists, the average U.S. residence is home not only to its human occupants but also to more than 100 species of invertebrates, such as centipedes, lice and spiders.
Most Americans know that dust mites occupy their homes, but few probably know just how many other critters crawl around. The new study is believed to be the first of its kind in attempting to quantify exactly what flies and scurries about in the average American home. In conducting the study, researchers thoroughly searched 50 houses and found they were inhabited by humans, pets and 579 different types of arthropods. Arthropods are invertebrate critters with jointed limbs and segmented bodies and include spiders and insects.
On average, the researchers found around 100 arthropod species in each home. The most common species were spiders, flies, beetles, ants and book lice. The scientists also found that in 65% of the homes, there were cobweb-producing spiders.
An entomologist at North Carolina State University, Matthew Bertone, said he was amazed at the number and variety of species found in what he emphasized were “clean and normal” homes in Raleigh, North Carolina.
He said that, “We were pretty surprised with what we found, such as the smallest wasp in the world, which is just 1 millimeter long. I saw a lot of things in homes that I had never seen in the wild before, things we’ve previously tried to trap. There is a weird species of beetle, called telephone pole beetles, where the babies can produce babies. And tiny crickets called ant-loving ants because they are found near ant nests. I’ve never seen one of those before.”
The researchers were entomologists that found the miniscule critters by simply looking from floor to ceiling in each room. They did not open drawers or rip up carpets. In one home, the scientists found several flesh flies which led to the discovery of the remains of a rotting rodent killed by the family feline.
Researchers picked 50 detached houses up to 5,000 square feet in size. They chose not to examine apartments due to the “shared bugs” from one apartment to another.
Bertone noted that, “There are lots of cobweb spiders and also the house centipede, which is a really creepy looking creature to some people but I find them fascinating. They are very fast and if you’re a cockroach, you’re likely to be on their menu. Most of these things aren’t pests, they peacefully co-habitate with people.
He added that, “I never thought I’d see such biology in homes that were clean, not filled with junk, just normal homes. My hope is that this doesn’t freak people out but people need to know their houses aren’t sterile environments.”