If you have no idea what arthropods are, don’t worry. You aren’t alone. Most people don’t know much, if anything, about arthropods either. But it’s actually a good idea to learn a bit about them because you’re probably surrounded by arthropods at this very minute.
Arthropods aren’t necessarily a problem, but they can be if they get out of control. So let’s figure out what these creatures are, which ones you’ll probably come across, and how to get rid of them when they’re in your home.
What are Arthropods?
Arthropods are not one single type of creature; they’re actually a whole varied group of creatures. They’re essentially invertebrate animals. This includes anything from an octopus to a crab to that fly buzzing around your living room. Seriously, this is a big group of creatures.
There are a few things that identify arthropods from non-arthropod creatures like humans. The first and most obvious is that these animals don’t have spines as we do. In fact, many of these animals don’t have internal skeletons at all. They’re more likely to have exoskeletons. Exoskeletons grow and harden on the outside of the creature’s body. But when it gets hard, the exoskeleton stops growing, but the rest of the creature does. So the creature eventually sheds its exoskeleton and grows a new one.
You’ll also be able to recognize an arthropod by its segmented body and jointed limbs. The exoskeleton helps to shape and strengthen the bodies of these creatures.
Another characteristic of arthropods is the type of circulation that these animals have. We, humans, have what’s called a closed circulation system, meaning that our body circulates blood through a web of veins and arteries. And it means that we have separate intestinal and lymph fluids in our bodies to perform digestion and immunity roles in our bodies.
But arthropods have an open circulation system, which has a central cavity where a fluid called hemolymph. Hemolymph acts as blood, lymph, and intestinal fluids all in one. And instead of having arteries, oxygen is carried through the body on pigments.
Now that you know what makes arthropods different from humans and other vertebrates, let’s take a closer look at the arthropods you’re most likely to encounter in your home.
Common Arthropods in Your Home and How to Get Rid of Them
Many more arthropods can and do come into your home, but these are some of the most common arthropods you’ll meet. Luckily, you can usually get rid of them or prevent them in simple ways.
These eight-legged creatures are some of the most common arthropods in the world. They typically come into your home to look for shelter and for food AKA insects. Despite their creepy appearance, spiders can actually be really beneficial to humans because they help control the population of other pests. Without spiders, we’d easily be overrun by insects no matter how hard we’d try to control them. However, if you don’t want them living in your home with you, that’s absolutely okay.
To get rid of spiders, you can use pest control to get rid of them, especially if there are a lot of spiders or there are venomous spiders in your home. But for the occasional spider, you can vacuum them up, squish them, or catch and release them away from your home. Most spiders won’t seriously hurt you, but be cautious when you catch and release them as they still might bite.
Cockroaches are also common worldwide. They’re attracted to your home when it provides them with a dark, moist environment to live in. They also really like to eat your food, so leaving leftovers and crumbs around your home is going to attract them as well.
Cockroaches are particularly problematic because they can cause respiratory problems in some people. If you or someone in your home has asthma or other respiratory issues, cockroaches will likely make those health problems worse.
Cockroaches, in many places, are notoriously hard to kill. Pesticides can work, and professional pest control will probably work best. But you’ll also want to make sure that any water damage or leaks are repaired quickly as well to discourage the cockroaches from staying in your home.
These small silvery insects frequent homes with moist environments. Silverfish get their name partly from their color and partly from their fish-like movements. They aren’t really harmful to humans, but they can cause damage to the food in your pantry and to paper products in your home (books, wallpaper, boxes, etc.).
Simple pesticides can be useful in getting rid of silverfish if they do show up, but be cautious with the pesticides while using and storing them. If you have a lot of them in and around your home, check for any water damage attracting them to your home and call pest control to get rid of them.
Ants are pretty much everywhere. They can wreak havoc on your food supply, take over your kitchen, and cause painful (though often harmless) bites. Though ants are tiny, they can be hard to get rid of once they show up in your home. If you see one, chances are there are hundreds of others nearby. Sometimes, whole colonies can live in your home.
If you do end up with ants in your home, you can try ant traps or poison to get rid of them, but it will probably only kill some of the ants living in your home. To completely get rid of them, pest control is your best option because they have stronger and more thorough treatments.
Bed bugs weren’t so common a few decades ago. In fact, they were almost wiped out entirely until pesticides were changed. Now, the chances of having bed bugs are increasing by the day. Bed bugs are wingless creatures that live near humans so they can drink their blood. They typically do this when we humans are sleeping or still. So even though they typically hang out in or near our beds, they also sometimes live in other furniture like couches.
If you have bed bugs, you’ll find bite marks on your body, often arranged in a line. You’ll also see bloodstains on your sheets or even occasional crushed bugs.
Bed bugs are resistant to modern pesticides, so they can’t be removed from your home with a store-bought pesticide. Instead, professional pest control will need to come in and do special treatments in your home to get rid of the bed bugs entirely.