Last year, I moved to a part of Los Angeles that, surprisingly, had an abundance of bugs. Creepy crawlies of every variety invited themselves inside and made themselves comfortable. If you've ever wondered which rooms in your house have the most bugs, a new study in the journal Scientific Reports revealed where bugs like to hang out in your house or apartment. While I technically don't live in the country, Los Angeles varies greatly in topography, from the foggy beach to the hot high desert, the type of bugs you see largely depends on which part of the city you live in.
Near the beach, you're likely to get an infestation of roly-poly bugs, while the valley where I live is basically a bug bonanza that includes everything from wolf and brown widow spiders to Jerusalem crickets, earwigs, fire ants, and sugar ants. And, I'm not kidding when I say that staying on top of bugs can feel like a full time job. While you can exercise some level of denial when you don't actually see the bugs, an article from KCET's environment news project Redefine, made me feel a little uneasy.
"There are brown widows underneath every piece of lawn furniture in LA County," Brian Brown, entomology curator at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, told Redefine. "I'm sure of it." So, now that you know that brown widows are living underneath my outdoor furniture, just where are the bugs hanging out in your house? The study found that the kitchen and the living room are favored by your uninvited insect guests. And, the study, which examined 10,000 bugs from a sample of 50 homes, found almost 50 different families of harmless insects living inside of the average home.
Home Is Where The Bugs Live
In my old apartment near Hollywood, I rarely ever saw a bug. But, a few weeks into "country" life, insects began to appear in alarming numbers. One night after my roommate had gone to bed I saw a wolf spider crawling across the living room floor. I grabbed the first thing I saw, which happened to be a foam roller, and smashed the spider. I should also mention that I hate bugs. They elicit a totally irrational fear in me that usually results in my screaming like a four year old. You know those TV shows where can win hundreds of thousands of dollars for eating bugs? Yeah, I wouldn't last a second.
You'd think that'd would be the end of the spider story, but much to my horror, what seemed like hundreds of tiny spiders scattered off the bigger spider like a scene from some kind of horrible insect horror movie. It took every ounce of self control I could muster not to scream and wake my roommate. I later learned that wolf spiders carry their babies on their backs and basically have their own little baby-wearing community, which made me start to obsess about the number of potential toddler spiders that could be hanging around having their own babies to wear on their backs.
Another time, my roommate texted me and said she shook out the living room curtains before vacuuming, and dozens of different types of bugs fell onto the floor. "It was a hot bed of critter activity," she told me. Both of these incidents happened in the living room, which is one of the spots in your home where bugs like to congregate and have their little meetings about how to terrorize you. And, if you have carpet, you're providing an even more attractive environment for these freeloading insects, though the study did not identify why bugs prefer carpet. Maybe it reminds them of grass.
If that's not bad enough, the study reported that, "When we considered lifestyle characteristics of residents within particular homes, we found that the diversity and the composition of the core arthropod community did not significantly vary between houses based on presence of cats or dogs, number of houseplants, pesticide usage, or relative levels of clutter and dust accumulation."
So, no matter how clean and clutter-free you are, the buggers are still coming inside. Living rooms, as well as kitchens — the other most common place to find bugs in your home — are communal spaces with greater access to doors and windows, which makes it easy for pests to get inside your pad and set up camp. While I was able to pretend bugs didn't exist at my last apartment, all I have to do here is exist to be smacked in the face with the reality of who's really in charge. Hint: it's the freakin' bugs.
Turning over the dog bed on the deck can send crickets and earwigs scattering. Piles of fire ants build mounds in the yard, sugar ants try to come inside, wolf spiders crawl out from corners in the living room, and apparently brown widow spiders are living underneath all of my patio furniture. The study also reported that human spend 90 percent of their time indoors, and many types of bugs live their entire life cycle inside your home without paying any rent. Short of living life inside a plastic bubble, there's nothing you can really do except making peace with your creepy crawly roommates.
I'm sorry I don't have better news, and trust me, I'm as traumatized as you are. If you're sufficiently freaked out, continuing to live in denial about your creepy co-habitants might be your best bet.