We largely accept that if we live in certain environments, there’s going to be bugs.
In Australia, they’re pretty much unavoidable. Not so much in the UK, while the diverse US means you can probably pick and choose buggy or non-buggy areas.
But scientists have found that the actual design of your home appears to also have a big influence on how many bugs make their home alongside you, and where the bugs tend to gather.
Researchers at the California Academy of Sciences, North Carolina State University, and the Natural History Museum of Denmark published findings in Scientific Reports that show certain homes are more attractive to creepy crawlies, and some of the things you may’ve thought encourage bugs have in fact no impact at all.
Big rooms encourage more bugs, especially those on the ground floor or, possibly unsurprisingly, those below ground. Again, it’s no shock to find the rooms with more windows and doors attract more bugs, as do carpets versus bare floors. And the more storeys, the fewer bugs there are as you go up.
High-traffic areas such as the living room are preferred by bugs such as fruit flies and ladybugs to bathrooms, kitchens and bedrooms, while basements are where you’re more likely to find spiders, ground beetles and mites. Moths are, as you no doubt already know, most common in bathrooms.
Although you may think that ants and cockroaches are a particular kitchen hazard, the study found that they’re actually usually spread evenly across all room types.
But how clean and tidy you are make no real difference to the number of insects in your home; nor does whether you have a cat or dog, love houseplants or have none, dust often or rarely. Not even your use of pesticides has any significant impact on the number of insects in your home. It’s all to do with what’s outside, not what you’re doing inside.
“Even though we like to think of our homes as shielded from the outdoors, wild ecological dramas may be unfolding right beside us as we go about our daily lives,” Misha Leong, the lead author of the study told Science Daily. “We’re learning more and more about these sometimes-invisible relationships and how the homes we choose for ourselves also foster indoor ecosystems all their own.”
While you may not love a buggy abode, the scientists point out that having one may in fact be healthier.
“A growing body of evidence suggests that many of our chronic, modern diseases are associated with our failure to be exposed to biological diversity, particularly that of microbes, some that may be vectored by insects,” the study says. “In this light, rooms with more kinds of arthropods may well be healthier rooms.”
The scientists based their findings on their studies in the US but are doing a seven-continent exploration to examine the same issue in other parts of the world.