Friday, 22 January 2016

Researchers find homes harbor nearly 500 different species of arthropods

JANUARY 20, 2016

by Brett Smith

We all know there’s a random ant or two roaming our house right now, looking for a dropped crumb. Or, a cobweb spider – doing what else – making a cobweb.

But what if it told you there are about 500 different kinds of bugs skittering around your happy home? Well, it’s true – according to a new study in the journal PeerJ.

“This was exploratory work to help us get an understanding of which arthropods are found in our homes,” study author Matt Bertone, an entomologist at North Carolina State University, said in a statement. “Nobody had done an exhaustive inventory like this one, and we found that our homes host far more biodiversity than most people would expect.”

In the study, researchers visited 50 houses within 30 miles of Raleigh, NC. Across all 50 homes, the scientists recognized nearly 580 several morphospecies of arthropod from more than 300 arthrodpod families. The team found homes had between 32 and 211 morphospecies, a term used to define animal types that are easily separable by morphological factors that are noticeable to individuals without extensive taxonomic training. The study team also found between 24 and 128 distinct families. The most commonly gathered groups were beetles, flies, ants and book lice.

“While we collected a remarkable diversity of these creatures, we don’t want people to get the impression that all of these species are actually living in everyone’s homes,” Bertone said. “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.”

For example, the researchers discovered gall midges in many homes. These tiny bugs need to feed on outdoor plants and quickly die once they enter our homes.

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