The following is a guest post by Rob Dunn, with photos by his graduate school office mate Piotr Naskrecki, AKA Piotr the Great. This post is also cross-posted at the new and improved yourwildlife.org, the hub for the Dunn Lab and collaborators’ citizen science program.

These creatures can be startling, but they are harmless. And so, please turn off the light and quietly close the door. They come in peace, you should too.

I have to be quiet so they don’t hear me. This will be short. We know so little. I have said this before. We know so little. We know so little that you can send out a survey and when you get the responses realize you have accidentally discovered that aliens are living all around you.

They have taken over, of all places, our basements, crawlspaces and closets, which, it is fair to say, we often don’t even use that much. As invasions go, this seems friendly, a move toward coexistence. Yet, these aliens fling themselves at you, out of the dark. They don’t make a sound except for the thump of their bodies against the wall, the modest bumping about. They can barely see. They feel their way. You might call it blindness except that they sense so much more with their sweeping antennae, antennae much longer than their bodies, than we do in the dark recesses downstairs. No one knows when they first arrived. They had been reported in an announcement here and there, but not in our houses, not where we live, not at first1. Then, when they were seen in houses, many of the reports were anecdotes2 and, as you well know, much of what we see on the Internet is not to be believed. And even had we heeded the notices, they could not have prepared us for what we have recently discovered.  The extent of their arrival seems to have gone missed. Or at least it had gone missed until we started to ask people questions about what they had found in their houses and they began to answer with their stories and even more blurry photos3. Continue reading →