The Ubiquitous Bug

If you’re one of the 6% of Americans who suffers with acute insectophobia you may want to click back to your friends on Facebook; or, why not just take a couple of deep breaths and see where this blog is headed? Someone once said Knowledge is Power, so there’s a chance we might just be able to help you out.

Whether you’re on reluctant bug-patrol 24/7 dreading a shriek of panic from the bathroom or the attic, or you’re one of those macho types making serious attempts to keep your house empty of bugs and standing over your prey like a Greek Colossus, this blogs for you.

But wait up Odysseus, we have news for you. You’re as unlikely to keep your house bug-free as you are to find more batteries for your TV remote just as your program’s about to start. Sure, you might kill a wasp with a quick burst of tetramethrin or squash a mosquito with the last ever edition of The Oregonian but there are hundreds more creatures where they came from waiting in the wings…with wings, and legs, and crunchy bodies. Sorry about that, but you may as well get used to it.

In point of fact we share our planet with a massive and unimaginable number of insects. Research estimates for each human on Earth there are around 200 mllion insects. In the United States alone the number of identified and listed species is approximately 91,000 including beetles (23,700), flies (19,600), ants, bees, wasps (17,500), and moths and butterflies (11,500). A sobering thought especially when you’re faced with that one wasp you just can’t get a good hit at.

So actually Mr (or Mrs) Bug Buster you have your work cut out, and not just inside the house. In North Carolina, soil samples to a depth of 5 inches showed that there were around 124 million critters per acre, of which 90 million were mites, 28 million were springtails, and 4.5 million were other insects. A similar study in Pennsylvania yielded figures of 425 million animals per acre, with 209 million mites, 119 million springtails, and 11 million other arthropods.

Indoors the numbers are still high. A report in January from Wired.com suggests there are 1000 insect species or more living in what we thought was a bug-free home, made up from around 93 species. In one study of 554 rooms in randomly inspected homes more than 99% had “extra guests”. Everywhere hosted flies, beetles, spiders, and ants and the research didn’t even touch upon rodents!

In truth, what difference have we made to how you feel about your home? Your home is your home and sharing it with so many creatures is a fact of life. Insects were in existence thousands of millennia before we came along and we’ve coped in sweet harmony, well, maybe not sweet but definitely in harmony. After all, sharing the planet with other creatures means we bring them with us, they live with us, live on us and in us and let’s not forget as feminist Mary Astell once said: “even the poorest Insect has its Use and Vertue.”

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