Wealthier Homes Have More Bugs

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Bugs are everywhere, but a new study shows that homes owned by more wealthier individuals and families have more bugs (at least in North Carolina) than those in lower tax brackets. The study is certainly not speaking about cockroaches and bedbugs rather it acknowledges the diversity of insects that exist in more affluent neighborhoods.

Bugs are everywhere, but larger yards mean more bugs in NC?

While your average homeowner isn’t a fan of bugs, entomologist Misha Leong is a big fan. The postdoctoral fellow at the California Academy of Science recently published a study that appeared yesterday in the journal Biology Letters with a good bit of help from her team.

Now, there is little question that you’re going to be “treated” to quite a few more bugs walking in the Everglades or the Amazon basin than you will walking from room to room in an affluent neighborhood in Raleigh, North Carolina. That said, you would be surprised by the number of bugs that simply pass through your home each day, not nest in your wall and force a call to the exterminator.

“Ecologists spend most of their time studying these far-off, exotic places, but we rarely think about the wildlife inside our homes,” says Leong.

“We’re actually surrounded by wildlife, especially bugs, when we’re indoors.”

Now, don’t get alarmed, we’re talking about completely harmless critters that often have hidden talents and constitute an important part of the ecosystem.

“Many of these species are completely harmless,” she says. “And even homes that looked completely clean still had lots of insects.”

Bug census comes to the neighborhood

Researchers arrived at 50 homes that were willing to let the team of researchers in a few years ago, and what a motley crew they must have looked with their headlamps, forceps, nets, and aspirators. The homes were selected to represent the income diversity of Raleigh, NC as a whole but the team surely looked like the government team that showed up in the film E.T.

The researchers groundbreaking work was to catalog each and every bug they found and the looked everywhere, well, almost everywhere.

“We didn’t go through drawers or closets looking for secrets,” Leong joked with National Geographic, “but we did spend a lot of time on our hands and knees sweeping up samples.” While Leong was the lead author, she had a lot of help.

The sheer diversity of bugs in more affluent households could give homeowners pause.

“Each home had between 32 and 211 species, belonging to between 24 and 128 families. Most are not pests. Many were found everywhere, and yet are so obscure that only keen naturalists know about them. These bugs are our closest creaturely neighbors, and we barely register their existence.

“I hope this doesn’t put fear in people’s minds that they’re being overrun or that they live in unclean homes,” says Matthew Bertone from North Carolina State University. “People have been living with these animals for centuries. This is just something that is.”

The study showed that homes of the wealth averaged a hundred types of arthopods, compared to half that number in less affluent households.

If you have a fear of bugs you’re apparently better off quitting your job and living to squalor or a failing building with little vegetation. Alternatively, you could simply get over your fears and stay in your palace.

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