As we in the United States approach a full year of spending even more time than usual at home, and away from friends and family, we’re all a little bit lonely. But even though it might feel as if your immediate family and your pets are the only signs of life in your house—you’re not as alone as you might think. The modern American house is a wilderness: thousands of species of insects, bacteria, fungi, and plants lurk in our floorboards, on our counters, and inside our kitchen cabinets—not to mention the microbes that flavor our food itself. The trouble with wilderness, however, is that we always want to tame it. Cleaning, bleaching, sterilizing, and killing the organisms in our houses has had unintended—and dangerous—consequences for our health and the environment. Biologist Rob Dunn, a professor in the department of applied ecology at North Carolina State University, joins us to impart some advice about how to graciously welcome these unbidden guests into our homes. This episode originally aired in 2018.
Go beyond the episode:
- Rob Dunn’s Never Home Alone
- Dig deeper into the experiments mentioned in the show, like the sourdough project or the world’s largest survey of showerheads
- Cat people: track your cat to reveal its secret life—and what it brings into your home—in this citizen science project
- More opportunities to participate in scientific research about everything from belly button ecology to counting the crickets in your basement through Your Wild Life
Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.
Download the audio here (right click to “save link as …”)
Have suggestions for projects you’d like us to catch up on, or writers you want to hear from? Send us a note: podcast [at] theamericanscholar [dot] org. And rate us on iTunes!
Our theme music was composed by Nathan Prillaman.
Permission required for reprinting, reproducing, or other uses.