Study: Bugs are ev­ery­where, de­spite how clean your home

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - NATION & WORLD - By Sarah Ka­plan The Wash­ing­ton Post

WASH­ING­TON — Michelle Trautwein hates to break it to you, but your home be­longs to the bugs.

They’re in your base­ment and at­tic. They’re scut­tling along floor­boards and win­dowsills. They’ve turned your kitchen cab­i­nets into com­plex ecosys­tems — com­plete with scav­engers and par­a­sites, preda­tors and prey.

And there’s noth­ing can do about it.

That is the lat­est take­away from Trautwein’s fiveyear, five-con­ti­nent ef­fort to un­der­stand the creepy crawly room­mates with whom we share our homes.

“We’ve been sam­pling houses all over the world, and it’s true glob­ally,” said the Cal­i­for­nia Academy of Sci­ences en­to­mol­o­gist. “Bugs don’t re­spect the you lim­i­ta­tions, the bor­ders we’ve cre­ated. They just view our houses as ex­ten­sions of their habi­tat.”

These in­ver­te­brate in­ter­lop­ers, she said, are “an in­evitabil­ity of liv­ing on the planet.”

Trautwein and her col­leagues have sam­pled homes in bustling ci­ties and ru­ral vil­lages in the United States, Aus­tralia, Ja­pan, Peru and Swe­den. Soon, they hope to visit Africa and Antarc­tica.

In 2012, the team con­vinced 50 home­own­ers in Raleigh, N.C., to let them look for bugs in­side their houses. Decked out in head­lamps and knee pads, the sci­en­tists spent hours crawl­ing around on floors, swab­bing for crit­ters and de­posit­ing their finds in tiny plas­tic vials.

For their lat­est pa­per, pub­lished last week in the jour­nal Sci­en­tific Re­ports, Trautwein and her col­leagues wanted to fig­ure out what fea­tures of a build­ing make it friend­lier to bugs.

So they scored each home on a num­ber of met­rics: de­gree of clean­li­ness; amount of clut­ter; pres­ence of pets, pes­ti­cides, dust bun­nies; and num­ber of win­dows and doors.

To Trautwein’s sur­prise, “noth­ing seemed to make a dif­fer­ence” when it came to bug di­ver­sity. Each home had an av­er­age of 100 species liv­ing in it, re­gard­less of how of­ten the res­i­dents cleaned or how many pets they had.

Trautwein said the grow­ing ev­i­dence that some ail­ments, such as al­ler­gies and au­toim­mune dis­eases, may be more likely to oc­cur be­cause we aren’t ex­posed to as many mi­crobes when we are young. In­sects may play a help­ful role in spread­ing mi­cro­bial di­ver­sity in­doors.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.