"Since it can be said that humans are generally creatures of habit, the state of a person's home has been known to physiologically influence their behavior, emotions, and overall mental health". That statement about the value of the place we call home comes from the Wikipedia page about 'home', under the heading 'psychological impact'. Knowing that the condition of a person's home fills such an important role in their psyche, effecting behavior, emotions, and mental health, it is completely understandable for a person whose home is infested with wasps, spiders, ants, termites, mice, or bed bugs, to ask "Why are these pests in my house?!"
Most of us consider our home, at very least, to be our own retreat from certain routine struggles in our life, whether that be the elements, work, traffic, school, social pressure, or Wal-Mart. Home is where we cultivate our own identity, pursue our preferences, and nurture the ones we love. So when spiders invade our laundry room, ants invade our kitchen, wasps invade our backyard, termites eat our door trim, or bed bugs (you can finish that one if you like....), we react with all types of emotion ranging from shock to disbelief to outrage to lasting emotional trauma. If you think that I am overstating the real psychological effects of insects in the home, I invite you to contact me or any other pest management professional for some real case histories, with names changed of course.
A brief look at the factual realities of why certain pest species happen to end up inside our dwellings may leave you with an appreciation of how few and how infrequently these pests take up residence in our home, and may, in fact, leave you wondering why more unwanted organisms are not competing with you for certain basic needs inside your own house!
Let's take a look at insects in particular, knowing very well that focusing only on insects leaves out very significant pests like mice, rats, pigeons, spiders, clover mites, and ticks. However, zooming in on insects alone allows us to learn a bit about pests that we most encounter inside of man-made structures. For starters, insects are among the most diverse groups of animals on the planet, including more than a million described species and representing more than half of all known living organisms. Now, to summarize a comparison, if we generously inflate our numbers and simply refer to ourselves as primates, it took me about 10 minutes to realize that we do not rank highly in the groups of known living organisms in terms of numbers. Simply put, there are way more of them than there are us. Secondly, insects may be found in nearly all environments, the exception being that only a small number of species occur in the oceans, a habitat dominated by another arthropod group, crustaceans. Again, I have not researched this very extensively, but the similarities between crustaceans and insects seems to me to be remarkable and probably has something to do with their successful oceanic domination. And to put a finer point on the prior point about insects being found in nearly all environments, humans are the most widely distributed primate on earth. Hmmmmm, humans are present in most places on the earth, insects are present in more places on the earth than any other organism, and there are many, many, many, more insects on earth than humans(so much so, in fact, that the total volume of just the termites on the earth in terms of weight is greater than that of all humans).... Now how did those ants get up on the counter?
Let's talk about one final point regarding invasive insect species before I leave you to enjoy your pest-free kitchen, couch, deck, or wood shop. Conducive conditions! All living organisms on this earth (with the exception of pandas in my own opinion) have an innate desire to thrive and reproduce. To accomplish these goals they seek conditions that will allow them to optimally achieve this. Many of the pest species that we loathe and work so hard to manage here in Western Nebraska and Southeast Wyoming (not unlike pests the world over) are looking for food, shelter, and desirable temperature and humidity levels. Does that sound like anyone you know? Fact is, while we put so much effort into to creating the perfect environment for ourselves to thrive in as we do inside our home, we are creating the most desirable environment for the insect pests we so detest. When they find it they realize that the struggle is over and it is time to thrive! So why are these pests in you house? Why not? It's great to be in your house, that's why you're in it everyday!
Thank you for reading my blog to this point. This last week I received some great compliments on something that I have dreamed about doing for a long time, so with your support I will continue. Don't be afraid to post comments telling me that something was inaccurate or even just plain dull. Conversely, if you found my post informative or entertaining, please comment on that as well. If you have a question, post it. If your kids have a question, I look forward to having a 'kids ask' post now and then because kids love bugs. In short, I was surprised at how many people read my blog in the last week, so if there is anything I can do to be The Peoples Entomologist, just ask.