In search of basement-dwelling arthropods
This morning I had the opportunity to head to “the field” – that’s what we biologist-types say when we leave the comforts of our offices and labs to do research in the wild.
In this case, “the field” was a local Raleigh area home. I accompanied the Arthropods of Our Homes team on what has become their now daily mission to catalog and uncover the diversity of insects and relatives that cohabitate with us.
Armed with headlamps, forceps, collecting vials, aspirators (essentially a soda-straw like contraption for gently sucking up insects) and a retro-fitted Shop Vac, entomologists Matt Bertone and Kelly Oten carefully and methodically visited each nook and cranny of the home in search of exoskeleton-bearing critters.
I was amazed by the team’s keen eyes and ability to discern a six-legged speck from a tiny bit of dust. Often, when we think about biodiversity, our minds wander to far off places like the tropical rainforest or a coral reef. But really, there’s a whole wild world living underfoot IN OUR OWN HOMES. We just haven’t really paid much attention… until now.
Michelle Trautwein, project leader and assistant director of the Biodiversity Lab at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences Nature Research Center, estimated that we collected at least 100 different species in this three-hour sampling effort in this single home.