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Meet the creepy, crawly bugs all over your home

Study identifies antrhopods common throughout the U.S.

Scanning electron micrograph of home dust including dust mites, animal fur, fibers, and pollen. Image credit: Anne A. Madden, with the assistance from Robert Mcgugan at the University of Colorado, Boulder Nanomaterials Characterization Facility. False-coloring done by Robin Hacker-Cary.
Scanning electron micrograph of home dust including dust mites, animal fur, fibers, and pollen. Image credit: Anne A. Madden, with the assistance from Robert Mcgugan at the University of Colorado, Boulder Nanomaterials Characterization Facility. False-coloring done by Robin Hacker-Cary.

A new study published this month takes a closer look at the diversity of the creepy, crawly arthropods that live among us.

Researchers from North Carolina State and the University of Colorado Boulder completed a census of arthropods in US homes, and found that more than 600 genera of them live among us.

“Previous research found a significant diversity of arthropods in homes in one part of North Carolina – we wanted to use advanced DNA sequencing-based approaches to get a snapshot of arthropod diversity in homes across the country,” says Anne Madden, a postdoctoral researcher at NC State and lead author of a paper on the new work.

“This work is a significant step toward understanding the ecology of our own homes, with the goal of improving our understanding of how those organisms in our homes may affect our health and quality of life.”

Arthropods, classified as an invertebrate animal having an exoskeleton, a segmented body and jointed appendages, include spiders, mites, ticks, small crabs, shrimp and centipedes, to name a few.

“We found more than 600 genera of arthropods represented inside people’s homes – not including food species, such as crabs and shrimp, which also showed up,” Madden says. “That’s an incredible range of diversity from just a tiny swab of house dust.”

Having a pet increases the number in homes.

“Greater diversity does not necessarily mean greater abundance,” Madden says. “We’re talking about more types of arthropods, not necessarily larger populations of arthropods.”


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