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19 Jan, 2016 18:59

‘Things I’ve never seen in the wild’: 500+ kinds of arthropods running through ‘normal’ US homes

‘Things I’ve never seen in the wild’: 500+ kinds of arthropods running through ‘normal’ US homes

Think you are living alone? Wrong. Even if you say you are, you are actually sharing your home with hundreds of “roommates”: lice, spiders and centipedes, scientists say. And you don’t even need to open a wardrobe to find them.

Yes, an ordinary American house seems to have a very “diverse” environment. US researchers examined 50 houses in Raleigh, North Carolina and collected 579 kinds of arthropods – invertebrate animals with segmented bodies. The study is the first of its kind, scientists said.

A single house had about 100 arthropods. Can you guess what the most common species were?

The answer is cobweb-producing spiders. They were found in 69% of the homes, while other popular “dwellers” included flies, beetles, ants and book lice.

The scientists were struck by the variety of species they encountered in homes that were “clean, not filled with junk, just normal.” What’s more, they said they didn’t even open any wardrobes, drawers or look under carpets.

“I saw a lot of things in homes that I had never seen in the wild before, things we’ve previously tried to trap,” Matthew Bertone, an entomologist at North Carolina State University said.

Some of the arthropods act like predators, while others come from the outside and do not last long, researchers said, stressing that most of the species are peaceful and far from being pests.

“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,” Bertone said.

“They are very fast and if you’re a cockroach, you’re likely to be on their menu,” he explained.

Bertone said the discovery should not frighten people, but rather should raise awareness about the environments they are surrounded by.

“My hope is that this doesn’t freak people out, but people need to know their houses aren’t sterile environments,” he said.

The study was published in the journal PeerJ. The scientists said they would go on with the research and explore the role each species plays in the home.