Think You’re Home Alone? Nope – Your Home Isn’t Bug-Free

If you think the odd house spider or a few small ants is all that lies beneath your house slippers, don’t read Rob Dunn’s Never Home Alone.

The ecologist’s novel, with a title that sounds like it came from the mind of Stephen King, carves an intriguing niche that studies the myriad fauna that are apparently all over our homes. These are small critters like microbes and insects that largely go unnoticed, but as Dunn points out, are in abundance.

Cataloguing life in unnatural spaces like your basement, Dunn’s team found surprises around the homes at every turn:

  • Examining house dust, they identified 8,000 bacterial species, many of which are new to scientists
  • Homes averaged about 100 species of arthropods
  • In some American homes, giant Japanese camel crickets invaded homes to which the owners were none the wiser
  • Over their searches spanning several years, Dunn and Co. have found about 200,000 unique bacteria and bugs in homes

Maybe the most harrowing of these uninvited houseguests is what he found lurking in showerheads: dozens of species of Mycobacteria which can cause disease like tuberculosis – though some types can impart health benefits.

What’s more, there was an entire ecosystem living in there; predatory bacteria swimming around, with multicelled protists eating those swimmers, and tiny worms eating those protists.

“This is the food web that falls upon you as you bathe,” Dunn writes. The circle of life is beautiful (and unhygienic).

Thorough Pest Control in Toronto

Though Dunn concedes many of these organisms can benefit health and home, do you really want to learn whether silverfish or drain flies have such talents?

Your home is more than a set of rooms, but a row of ecosystems in which various bugs and other crawlers can thrive. And while you may want to empathize and open your home to nature and life, like we always say, if you give a German cockroach an inch, its family will take over your home.


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