Arthropods - the new luxury good?
Back in the day, many a development economist would tally up a household's ownership of consumer durables to estimate their socioeconomic position. Should they be counting local bug populations instead? A recent paper by Leong et al. in Biology Letters explores the possibility of identifying the socio-economic status of urban neighborhoods by establishing indoor arthropod diversity.
The authors find that homes in wealthier neighborhoods have more diverse non-pest arthropod populations; surprisingly, even for houses in these neighborhoods that lacked sufficient surrounding vegetation. They go on to infer that neighborhood dynamics can compensate for environmentally suboptimal choices of individual homeowners.
Apparently, even bugs prefer to hang out at the posh addresses.