Let’s learn about the creepy crawlies in your home

Ants, spiders and more may be hiding out 

A house fly is a common find in a home — especially if you’ve recently left the door wide open. But what else might dwell indoors with you?

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It might seem that there’s nothing living in your house other than you, your family and your pets (if you have them). But take a closer look. How many critters can you find?

Back in 2012, scientists from North Carolina State University conducted the first-ever census of arthropod diversity in people’s homes. They visited 50 homes around Raleigh, collecting any living or dead insects, arachnids or other arthropods they could find. On average, each home had at least 93 species — and some had more than 500.

Some of these tiny roommates are innocent, like the spider that sits in a corner waiting to catch a meal. Others are a nuisance, like camel crickets. And then there are those that are real health hazards, such as bed bugs.

Researchers from NCSU have continued their efforts to document the creepy crawlies in our homes. And they are asking for your help. They started a project on the iNaturalist app called Never Home Alone: The Wild Life of Homes. More than 1,800 people around the world have uploaded more than 10,000 images of creepy crawlies they’ve found at home. That might seem like a lot, but more (say, 20,000) would let the scientists make some conclusions about the rarer species hiding out in our homes. (Find out below how to participate.)

Want to know more? We’ve got some stories to get you started:

Bugs that call your house home: Insects, arachnids and other arthropods are hiding in plain sight (2/4/2016) Readability: 7.9

Citizen scientists spy on camel crickets: Hiding in dark basements and garages, these insects live across the United States (3/9/2016) Readability: 6.5

Return of the bed bug: Evolution and luck have been aiding this bloodsucking parasite’s global spread (5/15/2015) Readability: 7.3

Explore more

Scientists Say: Venomous

Explainer: Eek! What if you get bed bugs?

Analyze This: A massive annual insect migration

Spiders eat insects — and sometimes veggies

Word find

Submit your own arthropod observations through the iNaturalist project Never Home Alone: The Wild Life of Homes. And check out this guide to common insects and other arthropods found in your home from the project researchers.

Sarah Zielinski is managing editor of Science News for Students. She has degrees in biology and journalism and likes to write about ecology, plants and animals. She has two cats, Oscar and Saffir.

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