“Only now are we beginning to give importance and to investigate how the homes that humans create also make up a complex interior habitat for bugs and other small life forms. The objective is to better understand this ancestral coexistence and its implications in our physical and mental health”. This is how Misha Leong sums up the pioneering study he has led and in which experts from the California Academy of Sciences, the North Carolina State University and the Natural History Museum of Denmark have contributed.
Their results, published in the Scientific Reports magazine, shed light on the real zoo of bacteria, fungi, insects, arachnids and myriapods that accompany us in our homes after doing the census in 50 urban properties of the population of Raleigh, in North Carolina.
The first of his conclusions is that insects do not like heights. The new research reveals that the variety of these animals increases in the lower floors of buildings; in fact, their favorite place to settle is basements. They have also found that the density of arthropods increases in large rooms, with carpets or carpets and with more windows or doors, and those that provide them with more access from outside. In addition, the greater or lesser diversity of species corresponds to the one that exists in the environment.
But do not panic. As one of the authors of the work recalls, the entomologist Michelle Trautwein, bugs can help us to be healthier. “A growing number of indications point to some modern diseases being related to a deficit of exposure to microorganisms, and domestic insects play a fundamental role in the dissemination of microbial biodiversity,” warns this expert.
They like to be in the living room
That wealth or poverty also varies from stay to stay. After making a count of key species -mariquitas, fruit flies and psocoptera-, the researchers detected that the common rooms, like the salons, welcomed more insects than kitchens, bedrooms or bathrooms. And those spiders, mites, centipedes, millipedes or certain beetles proliferate especially in dark and damp spaces.
A shocking result is that order does not play a decisive role in the greater or absence of “fauna” in the houses; the rooms that are sleeve by shoulder only attract the fólcidos, those characteristic long-legged spiders that make their cobwebs in the corners. Not even factors such as the use of pesticides or the fact that we have many plants or live with pets have too much impact on the composition of domestic ecosystems. What determines its composition is, above all, the biodiversity of the environment.
The study is part of an international project to deepen this, until now, underestimated scope of coexistence between human beings and the creatures that make us company since we started to build stable shelters, about 20,000 years ago.