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Rich Houses Are Rich In Insect Activity, Too

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Apparently, being rich doesn’t mean having less insect activity, according to a recent study.

How wealthy a neighborhood is can become a good predictor of the number of insects found inside the houses, the study says. NPR reports that the researchers looked inside 50 homes in Raleigh, North Carolina for bug activity.

Previous studies have shown that wealthier residential areas tend to be more biologically diverse outdoors, primarily because rich people tend to have more complex gardens and lawns that can build and impact animal diversity. This is called the “luxury effect.”

Misha Leong, lead author and entomologist, told Smithsonian magazine that it was a paradox.

You have this luxury effect known to happen outdoors and this public perception that low-income neighborhoods have major arthropod problems.

But, Leong says, that perception is a prejudice.

Up until now, there has been little research on ecology indoors. The scientists note that recent studies suggest the “indoor biome” actually has more diversity than was previously acknowledged.

The team discovered that homes are teeming with uninvited insects. “The average home contains more than a hundred anthropod species; the vast majority of these species being non-pests,” the researchers state, proving tht the luxury effect is true for both indoors and out.

The study says that the most important predictor of insect diversity was the square footage of the house, then local ground vegetation cover, followed by mean neighborhood income and lastly, local ground vegetation diversity.

The researchers made a startling discovery: the relationship between neighborhood income and insect diversity is true even in wealthy homes without particularly grand gardens. This could be because these areas are more likely to have “enhancements at a neighborhood scale” compared to lower income spaces, such as more parks and greenery along roads.

Leong says that what happens on a neighborhood scale can greatly affect what’s on a home’s kitchen floor.

The researchers conclude that there is much to learn about indoor ecology, and that there are plenty of mysteries waiting to be solved in people’s attics, basements and bathrooms.

The study was published in Biology Letters.

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