How To Get Rid of Basement Bugs and Pests
Since basements are located underground in a home, it is often the easiest entry point for bugs and pests. Basements are usually rooms that do not see a lot of visitors in a given day, which allows for these creatures to set up webs and homes without being detected for longer periods of time.
Some common pests found in basements include spiders, ants, termites, roaches, crickets, mice, rodents, and bats. Below are some ways to get rid of these creatures and more in your home, with prevention being one of the best and most important steps to keep in mind.
Despite their reputation, spiders are not all bad, and most of them are not even dangerous at all. Many reported spider bites turn out to be from other insects and not spiders. Still, many people have arachnophobia and many just plain don’t care to share their home with them.
A single female spider can lay as few as two eggs or as many as 1,000, depending on the species and the time of year. Many spiders lay a single sac of eggs before dying, while others continue to breed.
Spiders tend to go to the basement of the house for several reasons: They are seeking warmth, they have found a good source of food, and they like the privacy of the area. Some spiders specifically move in to areas of the house where people do not go because they are solitary.
TO GET RID OF SPIDERS IN YOUR BASEMENT, TAKE THE FOLLOWING STEPS:
1. REMOVE THEIR FOOD SOURCE
A spider does not eat human or pet food at all but rather survives off of insects that they have found in your home. Cut off the food supply and you cut down on the spiders. If there are no flies to ensnare in their webs, the spiders will wander off on their own.
2. ELIMINATE THEIR HOMES
Many spiders build webs, but few actually live there. They usually hide in cracks or corners near the web and then come out to strike when the web is disturbed. Sucking up a spider’s web with a vacuum makes sure that you get the web, any egg sacs and any spiders that happen to be nearby. If you do this frequently, the spider may get the hint and leave.
3. USE AROMATIC OILS
Peppermint, lavender, and lemon essential oil sprays are pleasant enough for humans but are said to repel spiders. Spray this around the basement, especially along the ceiling and the floorboards. You can also use these sprays around the perimeter of your house.
4. DON’T STACK WOOD NEAR YOUR HOUSE
And do not bring it in by the huge armload. Only bring in what is going into the fireplace immediately because wood is a great hiding spot for spiders and other pests.
5. CONTACT AN EXTERMINATOR
If your spider problem persists, contact a spider exterminator to come in and address the problem for you.
ANTS, TERMITES, ROACHES, CRICKETS, TICKS, CENTIPEDES, AND MORE
This section deals with ants, termites, the many varieties of roaches, crickets, ticks, centipedes, and more.
The queen ant is one that you do not see out in the open. She is constantly laying eggs and she never leaves the nest as worker ants bring her food. So simply going after the ants that you see out in the open will not get rid of your ant problem. You must infiltrate the hidden nest.
1. SET OUT BAIT
There are ant bait stations available to purchase, which allow ants to enter, pick up insecticide bait, and carry it back to feed the queen. This will cut off any reproduction problem. Place these bait stations along the path the ants are frequently seen traveling. It could take several days for the queen and colony to be eliminated from this route.
2. DO NOT SPRAY
This is a waste of materials. Spraying will only take out the worker ants that you can see, while the queen continues to make more and more. If you locate the exposed nest, then spray the nest with an insecticide spray.
3. DELAY CLEANING UNTIL AFTER THEY ENTER YOUR TRAPS
The ants will pick up the odor of their previous trails to reach your ant bait stations.
4. THEN CLEAN
After you have wiped out that ant problem, try to keep the area clean to remove any access to food or water that would attract new ants.
5. CONTACT AN ANT EXTERMINATOR
If your ant problem persists despite all of your hard work, contact in an ant removal professional so that you don’t have to live with an ant infestation any longer. Find out more about how to get rid of ants.
Termites feed on all kinds of wood and newspaper materials. This can go from being a nuisance with them feeding on your lumber to a very serious issue with them destroying the structure of your home.
Some signs of termites in your home include discarded termite wings, wood damage, and mud tunnels around the base of the house.
Here are some tips for getting rid of termites:
DO NOT STORE WOOD AND NEWSPAPER NEAR THE FOUNDATION. Termites feed on these materials and if they are found near your foundation, which tends to have cracks and small entry points, they are more likely to enter your basement and home.
KEEP YOUR BASEMENT DRY.
Termites are attracted to moist, undisturbed environments, which makes the basement a prime target location. Stay on top of any basement leaks or flooding so standing water is not left to sit, and check the area often.
KEEP SOIL AROUND THE FOUNDATION DRY.
Termites also like moist soil, so make sure there’s no water infiltration keeping the soil around your foundation wet. Keep sprinklers directed away from it and make sure all gutters are clear and directing water away from the foundation.
Since termites can do a lot of damage in a short period of time, consider contacting a termite specialist to handle the issue for you.
There are over 4,000 species of cockroaches around the world, with the German and American cockroaches being the most common. There are many reasons why someone would want roaches removed from their home. Cockroaches are not only unsightly, but they can also carry bacteria and contaminate your food with things like E. coli and salmonella.
For tips on how to get rid of roaches, read below:
BLOCK ENTRY POINTS
Cockroaches can get in through very small cracks and gaps, so keep an eye out for those types of spaces and seal them up.
CUT OFF THEIR FOOD SOURCE
Roaches like human food and can survive off of very little of it so make sure not to leave food out and always clean up even the littlest of crumbs.
TAKE OUT TRASH REGULARLY
Don’t leave your trash sitting out for several days just asking for roaches to flock to it. Make sure your trash has a well-sealed lid as well and clean out the bin if needed.
Roaches like to hide in piles of clutter, such as stacks of paper and boxes, which can often accumulate in basements. So stay on top of your recycling and tidying up duties.
There are baits with insecticide that you can put out that will attract and kill roaches.
ELIMINATE WATER SOURCES
Roaches are drawn to wet environments so make sure there is no leaking in your basement that could be attracting them.
CONTACT A ROACH EXTERMINATOR
Roach removal professionals will have the effective insecticides and baiting techniques to handle your roach problem quickly.
Crickets are yellowish-brown insects with an ability to quickly hop out of the way when being pursued. They tend to live mostly outside during the summer months, but when temperatures drop they search for shelter indoors. They are attracted to dark and damp areas, which is why the basement is an ideal spot to set up camp for them. Signs of crickets include chirping sounds and damage to fabrics.
Here are tips for how to get rid of crickets in the basement:
SET STICKY TRAPS. There are traps with sticky surfaces on the bottom, so once a cricket steps onto it, it is then no longer able to move.
SPRAY. Buy an insecticide that targets crickets and spray it around the base of your foundation and along cracks or entry points to the outdoors. If there are pets or children that will be near this area, you should avoid this option.
CRICKET EXTERMINATOR. Cricket exterminators will have the appropriate knowledge and equipment to handle your cricket problem quickly and safely.
Early spring and fall is when stink bugs are most active in a home. Squashing a stink bug is not recommended as they emit a foul-smelling odor when disturbed or crushed. The best approach for immediate removal of a stink bug in your house is to capture them and release them quickly outside. However, this doesn’t stop them from finding their way back into the house.
Here’s how to remove stink bugs and prevent them from returning:
SEAL ALL CRACKS
Use caulk to fill any small holes that stink bugs could skip through. Seal gaps around basement windows and doors that are in bad shape or completely replace them, as this is a common entry point for stink bugs.
Stink bugs are lured into traps and killed inside of these traps.
Spraying the appropriate insecticides can do away with your stink bug problem.
REMOVE STINK BUG-ATTRACTING TREES AROUND YOUR HOUSE
Stink bugs feed on black locust, maple, ash, and catalpa trees.
STINK BUG EXTERMINATOR
If the DIY methods are not working, consider hiring a professional.
If your basement includes a bedroom, then bed bugs could also be an issue on your radar. Bed bugs are apple seed-sized insects that are known to bite and feed on blood, leaving behind itchy red marks on the skin.
Tips for getting rid of bed bugs:
HEAT INFESTED MATERIALS. Throw any sheets and bedding into the dryer on high heat for about 30 minutes. This will kill the bed bugs. For items that don’t fit into the dryer, use another heating instrument to apply heat. The hotter you can get the materials, the less time is needed to kill them.
PHEROMONE TRAPS. These devices will help you see if you have eradicated all of the bed bugs or if some are still lurking.
BED BUG EXTERMINATOR. Contact a pest control specialist to inspect your home and treat the issue.
PLACE ITEMS IN SEALED PLASTIC BAGS. In order to keep the bed bug infestation contained, put items that you are removing from the room in sealed plastic bags. This is also true if you are throwing items away. Seal them before disposing of them so bed bugs don’t drop off into new rooms.
BUG BOMBS OR FOGGERS. These spray a poison that kills the bed bugs. Use extreme caution when using this method as it can harm you or your home if used improperly.
Here are prevention and elimination tips that apply to these insects as well as ticks, centipedes, fleas, flies, mosquitos, chiggers, mites, and more.
CLEAR OUT HOMES NEAR FOUNDATION
Cut back brush, trees, and flowers where insects can be living near your foundation. Consider using gravel instead of mulch, especially in shaded areas and in areas that are closest to basement windows.
BE SMART ABOUT LIGHTING
Limit the use of outdoor lights, or direct them to point outward so that bugs are not attracted and then decide to stay.
DO NOT LEAVE FOOD IN THE BASEMENT
Eliminate all food sources by not storing food in the basement or making sure that it is securely covered. Wipe up all spills immediately.
Some insects, like the common roach, hate a breeze, so install and use a ceiling fan.
PEST CONTROL OR FUMIGATION SPECIALIST
Bring in a professional to assess the situation and diagnose the proper insect removal plan of attack.
MICE AND RODENTS
Two mice in your house can eat four pounds of food and leave over 18,000 droppings in just six months. A single female mouse can have as many as ten litters in a year, with each litter having six to eight mice each. Those baby mice will be ready for their own litters in just one month.
They can climb, jump, and squeeze into a space the size of a dime. If a mouse can fit its head into a crack, it can squeeze the rest of his body in as well. Once a mouse is inside, he will set up a nest, usually destroying furniture, clothing, and the mice will even get in the walls to do this. They can chew through wires and cause fires, power outages, and more. Mice are known carriers of disease, especially if they make it up to the living areas.
Signs of mice in your home include trails of mice droppings and holes chewed through boxes and wires.
TO GET RID OF SPIDERS IN YOUR BASEMENT, TAKE THE FOLLOWING STEPS:
SET UP MOUSETRAPS
Put out more traps than you think you need, because you want to get the mice before they have more chances to breed and before they learn to avoid the traps. If you catch a mouse in a trap, you will want to remove the mouse as soon as possible for the health and safety of those living in your home.
If you continue to see new mouse droppings around the area, then you have not caught all of the mice and should continue with your mouse removal efforts.
REDUCE PLACES WHERE MICE CAN ENTER
Block off any holes or cracks along the foundation or windows with caulk and steel wool. Also, repair any broken screens.
CUT BACK NEARBY TREES AND SHRUBBERY
This is another way that mice and other pests can gain access to a home.
KEEP FOOD STORED AWAY
Any food in the area should be removed or stored in tightly sealed containers so they do not attract mice.
KEEP BIRDSEED WELL SEALED
Mice and other creatures love a bag of birdseed and if your basement is your storage space for it, then you need to make sure it is stored in a way that a creature cannot get into it.
ODORS THAT REPEL MICE
Mice do not like the smell of peppermint, cayenne pepper, or used kitty litter. Having these present in your basement could help deter them from setting up homes down there.
GET A CAT OR DOG
The right kind of pet can hunt down any mice and take care of the problem for you. A cat plus the kitty litter may be the one-two punch that keeps mice out for good.
CONTACT AN EXTERMINATOR
If all of your efforts fail, contact a professional. Exterminators will know where mice are likely to hide, how they are getting in, and they can handle all of the unsightly details for you.
TYPES OF MOUSETRAPS
This type of mousetrap uses electric shock to quickly kill the mouse so it does not suffer.
These are an inexpensive option that many people opt for. They are easy to bait, set, and reset if needed. Snap traps are made of plastic or wood and steel.
Live traps catch the mice in a cage without hurting them, so you can carry them far away from your home and humanely release them.
TIPS FOR SETTING UP MOUSETRAPS:
Place the traps as close to where they are living as possible. Randomly placing traps around the basement will not do much good. You need to hone in on where they are coming from and place them nearby.
Do not position them out in the open. Put them in places where they are likely to hide such as in little nooks.
Peanut butter is considered effective bait.
If a few days pass without any success, consider moving the traps or changing the bait in the trap.
If using poison on your trap, handle the materials with gloves that you later dispose of and wash your hands.
Keep any poisons out of reach of pets and children.
Be careful when setting snap traps that you do not accidentally set it off yourself and get your hand caught in a swift and painful clamp.
Although you usually find bats in attics, they can often end up in the basement of your home. Despite their benefits to the environment and the perk that they eat nearby insects, bats can be a problem, especially inside of the house. Although actually rare, some bats do carry rabies and may bite if provoked.
The bigger problem is from the accumulated bat droppings, which are not only messy and very smelly but also are a source of histoplasmosis, which can be potentially fatal, especially to those who are most vulnerable to infection such as infants. Their droppings and urine can also break down building materials in your walls and hurt the structural integrity of your home.
Bats are a protected species in most states, which means that if you find one in your home, catching and releasing them elsewhere is the best approach rather than killing them. They are not aggressive unless they feel threatened.
HERE ARE TIPS FOR REMOVING BATS AND PREVENTING THEM FROM RETURNING:
CATCH AND RELEASE
If you are going to try to catch this bat yourself, use whatever you can find to trap it. Some potential tools include a butterfly net, tupperware container, bucket, jar, towel, or blanket. Make sure to wear protective clothing and gloves as protection from potential bites.
COVER COLONY OPENINGS WITH A ONE-WAY EXIT VALVE
Keep an eye out for where bats are entering and exiting your home. Note that colonies often have multiple access points. Once you’ve located the entry points, cover each opening with a one-way exit valve or similar product that allows the bats to leave the colony in the house easily, but does not allow them to get back inside of it. Once all of the bats are out, then put on protective gear and cleanup the area they inhabited.
SEAL UP POTENTIAL OPENINGS
Bats only need half-inch openings to get through so block any and all potential entry points to your home. Crooked doors and damaged windows in basements are vulnerable.
CONTACT A BAT OR WILDLIFE REMOVAL PROFESSIONAL
Since there is some danger and risk involved with bat removal, consider contacting an expert to come in and remove the bat or bats from your home.
Other Household Pests:
The basement can be a breeding ground for all sorts of insects and pests, but it does not have to be.
Stay diligent by frequently monitoring vulnerable areas and maintaining the basement so it remains a pest-free zone.