Arthropods of Our Homes Collection Details

Steps to Participate

  1. Sign up as a volunteer online.**
  2. We will contact you by email with further details, including an assigned house ID number and links to our consent form and questionnaire.
  3. Read the consent form & fill out the online questionnaire.
  4. After you have submitted your questionnaire online, we will contact you to set up a collection date & time.

**We’ve been overwhelmed by public interest in our project! Please note that we’ll only be able to physically sample 100 homes for this study, and as of August 1, 2012, have had hundreds sign up to participate. Although we will most likely not be able to visit your home this first round, please consider signing up so we can alert you when our project moves into Round 2.**

We don’t want you to change your behaviors. Prior to our arrival, we’ll ask that you do not alter your daily cleaning or pesticide application behaviors. One of our objectives is to link regular household activities with arthropod diversity, so it’s essential that the conditions most accurately represent everyday life.

What to Expect When Your House is Sampled

  1. When we arrive, we will give you the consent form to sign.
  2. For each home visit, 2 researchers will spend approximately 2-3 hours sampling arthropods inside and outside of your home. We ask that you or a member of your household be present for the duration of the home arthropod sampling (And don’t worry! We won’t ask you to collect anything!)

What we will sample:

  • the floor, walls and ceiling of each room of the home (including garage, basement, and inside the entrances to attics and crawl spaces)
  • inside the cabinet under your kitchen and bathroom sink
  • light fixtures
  • window sills
  • vacuum sample a carpet (for dust mites)
  • 10 cm-deep soil sample within 3 meters (~ 9 feet) of your foundation
  • outside walls of your home

What we will NOT sample:

  • inside furniture (drawers, etc.)
  • inside appliances

Project FAQs

Q: I regularly treat my home with pesticides. Can I still participate?
A: Yes! We want to compare the biodiversity of homes on a spectrum of pesticide application regiments.

Q: Can I clean up before you get here?

A: Only if it’s part of your regular cleaning schedule. The objective is to capture the diversity of life in your home how you normally live in it. For example, if you normally vacuum once a week, stay on that schedule. If you normally leave dishes on the counter-top for a few hours before cleaning, be sure you do the same. Remember, unlike your usual guests, we are hoping to find insects in your house!

Q: Will anyone else know what arthropods I have in my home?

A: No. The list of arthropods we find in your house will be provided to you and will not be shared with anyone else. When we share what we have found with the general public or in scientific publications, there will be no association of names or addresses with the specimens. This is the primary reason we assign participants ID numbers. We strive for participant anonymity and will store any personally identifying information in a secure database only for the purpose of notifying each participant of their personal results.

This work (and the methods we outline above) have been reviewed and determined to be exempt from policies and regulations for human subjects research, per the decision of the NCSU Institutional Review Board. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us at

Q: I live in an apartment. Can I participate?
A: Unfortunately, no. At this point in the study we are restricting our collections to free-standing homes.

Q: How long will it take?
A: Depending on the size of your home, sampling may take anywhere between 2 and 3 hours.