A collage of various insects against an orange background
A yearlong project studying spiders and insects in Los Angeles turned up surprising results. (Composite: Letty Avila. Image sources: Wikimedia Commons, iStock and Kelsey Bailey.)

Are bugs bugging humans or the other way around? Study reveals surprises

Researchers uncover factors in urban areas that affect diversity in insects and spiders. The study could help ensure the health of these crucial ecosystem contributors.
ByDarrin S. Joy

Insects and spiders often receive little attention from people, except when we’re swatting them away. However, as arthropods — creatures distinguished by a hard exoskeleton and jointed legs— they play an essential role in sustaining the ecosystems humans rely on. Remarkably, arthropods make up approximately 84% of all known animal species.

A study published recently in Scientific Reports reveals how human activity affects biodiversity among arthropods and how nonbiological factors, such as daily temperature swings and proximity to the ocean, affect arthropod biodiversity in urban areas.

The research uncovered a few surprises and points to ways homeowners, landscapers and urban planners can ensure a healthy mix of these small but vital neighbors.

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