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PeerJ. 2016 Jan 19;4:e1582. doi: 10.7717/peerj.1582. eCollection 2016.

Arthropods of the great indoors: characterizing diversity inside urban and suburban homes.

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Department of Entomology, North Carolina State University , Raleigh, NC , United States of America.
California Academy of Sciences , San Francisco, CA , United States of America.
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences , Raleigh, NC , United States of America.
Department of Applied Ecology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, United States of America; Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate, Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.


Although humans and arthropods have been living and evolving together for all of our history, we know very little about the arthropods we share our homes with apart from major pest groups. Here we surveyed, for the first time, the complete arthropod fauna of the indoor biome in 50 houses (located in and around Raleigh, North Carolina, USA). We discovered high diversity, with a conservative estimate range of 32-211 morphospecies, and 24-128 distinct arthropod families per house. The majority of this indoor diversity (73%) was made up of true flies (Diptera), spiders (Araneae), beetles (Coleoptera), and wasps and kin (Hymenoptera, especially ants: Formicidae). Much of the arthropod diversity within houses did not consist of synanthropic species, but instead included arthropods that were filtered from the surrounding landscape. As such, common pest species were found less frequently than benign species. Some of the most frequently found arthropods in houses, such as gall midges (Cecidomyiidae) and book lice (Liposcelididae), are unfamiliar to the general public despite their ubiquity. These findings present a new understanding of the diversity, prevalence, and distribution of the arthropods in our daily lives. Considering their impact as household pests, disease vectors, generators of allergens, and facilitators of the indoor microbiome, advancing our knowledge of the ecology and evolution of arthropods in homes has major economic and human health implications.


Arthropod; Entomology; Houses; Indoor biome; Urban entomology

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