"How many insects do you think are in your home? None? One? A hundred? Some new research suggests you need to step that number up by a factor of 10. Or more. But don't panic: Insects and their relatives are living peacefully in your home. They aren't bothering you. Well, except psychologically, now that you know hundreds of them are there.
Entomologists have been saying for years it's not possible to have a completely bug-proof home; now there are numbers to back that up. Scientists carefully collected all the arthropods (insects, spiders, mites, and crustaceans, among others) they found in 50 homes in North Carolina. In every single home they examined, they found extra residents. Of 554 rooms in those homes, all but five (less than 1 percent) had some crunchy squatters. If you think your house is spotless and bug-free, you are wrong. When you move into an empty house, it's not really empty. You have roommates.
Over 400 people volunteered to have entomologists search their homes for bugs after a public call for participation. Because really, how often do you get to have a group of PhDs crawl around your house on their hands and knees for free?
The research group chose a representative selection of homes, big and small, from 7 to almost 100 years old. They limited themselves to visible surfaces under and behind furniture, baseboards, ceilings, and shelves. I asked researcher Matt Bertone what it was like to knock on a someone's door, introduce yourself, and then spend hours crawling around their floor with a headlamp and tweezers. He said it wasn't awkward until the end (well, more awkward than what you'd expect if a complete stranger looked under your couch and bed)…"
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