by MA Bertone, M Leong, KM Bayless, TLF Malow, RR Dunn, MD Trautwein
Indoor arthropods, commonly recognized as household pests and disease vectors, have had a significant impact on humans in both historic and contemporary society. Although arthropods are the most diverse and abundant group of multicellular life found within households, there is a knowledge gap regarding their distribution and prevalence. To gain a deeper understanding of the ecological dynamic within homes, this paper investigates the influence that interior microhabitats have on the assemblage of arthropod communities. The authors examined the composition of overall arthropod diversity, including both pest and non-pest species, in 50 homes located in Raleigh, North Carolina. Over 10,000 specimens were collected and identified in the 554 rooms sampled. The authors discovered high diversity within each household, with a conservative estimate range of 32-211 morphospecies and 24-128 distinct arthropod families. The majority of the indoor diversity (73%) consisted of arthropods filtered from the surrounding landscape, rather than synanthropic species. Only four families, which include cobweb spiders (Theridiidae), carpet beetles (Dermestidae), gall midge flies (Cecidomyiidae), and ants (Formicidae), were identified in 100% of homes sampled. The results represented a gradient of different associations between arthropods and human habitats. The authors identified synanthropic arthropods strongly adapted to human houses, others that occasionally seek shelter and resources, and many groups that become trapped in houses unintentionally. The impacts of indoor arthropods include human health and economic implications, therefore, understanding the diversity, prevalence, and distribution of these arthropods is critical. The information provided can advance knowledge of arthropod ecology and evolution within households, while also fostering research on the ecological dynamics of the indoor biome to better understand the potential implications of the species.