If you have a basement, chances are you’re already aware that there are bugs down there. Whether your basement is a sophisticated addition to your house or a messy storage area, basements typically offer a haven for bugs because it tends to be darker and damper relative to the rest of your house, and there’s generally less human and (pet) animal traffic.
In this blog post, we’re going to be talking about common bugs or pests you may find in your basement, and if they’re good for you or if you should give them the boot (figuratively speaking; there are better, less messy ways to deal with them).
A common dweller in basements all over (and a staple in Halloween decorations), spiders generally pose no harm and are in fact one of the more beneficial bugs (technically an arachnid) you’ll find in your house. They generally stay out of your way, and hunt other pesky bugs such as flies, mosquitoes, and cockroaches! They even eat other types of spiders, so you may notice the species of spider in your basement may change every once in a while.
Cellar spiders and common house spiders are two of the more prevalent spiders found in American homes, and they’re harmless. Cellar spiders don’t bite, and while common house spiders do if they’re threatened, they only cause minor irritation (unless you have an allergic reaction, then you may want to seek medical attention).
The two spiders you may find in your home that are dangerous are the Brown Recluse and Black Widow.
While both are shy and would rather flee than attack you if threatened, their bites contain toxic venom that are very painful, and in very rare occasions, may even lead to death.
You can spot a Black Widow by the yellowish orange or red hourglass shape on its abdomen, and a Brown Recluse by its violin-shaped mark (and they have 6 eyes instead of 8, but you probably don’t want to get close enough to see). If you’ve been bitten by either one, seek medical attention immediately.
Despite looking like hellspawn, they’re generally also one of the more useful crawling inhabitants you may find in your home or basement. Centipedes only bite if they’re given no other recourse to try and escape – otherwise, they spend their time hunting other pests (including cockroach eggs).
They may crawl into people’s ears, but no more than any other small insect might, and they only come into your house typically in colder months to escape the cold outside. They have pincers that may pinch you when they’re threatened, but the force is rarely enough to break skin. They’re harmless, and like the other creepy-crawlies we’ve discussed so far, earwigs spend their time hunting more problematic pests.
They’re dirty and pose health risks, spreading bacteria wherever they go including salmonella, streptococcus, staphylococcus, and more. When you find cockroaches in your basement, it’s time to clean it out.
If you see what you think are termites (or pale ants) then take immediate action. They come in colonies and destroy your house from the inside and may cause structural issues. Measures you can take are keeping the room and surrounding area as dry as possible, including limiting your use of mulch around your house.
What you can do to limit these pests
As we mentioned earlier, these bugs are attracted to the relative darkness and dampness of your basement. You can make things more inhospitable for these illegal occupiers by cleaning out your basement and eliminating dampness as much as you can.
Clear out any unnecessary boxes and consider replacing them with plastic containers, as cockroaches and other small insects like to use these as hiding places (or breeding grounds for their little ones).
Make sure your pipes are all in working order and that there’s not any spot in your basement where water accumulates. Consider using a dehumidifier which also helps eliminate mold buildup.
For any pest infestation, get in touch with a pest control provider to make sure pests are eliminated and kept out!
There are plenty of ways to deal with pests in your own home and garden safely and naturally,with many pesticides and pest traps available for purchase both online and in brick-and-mortar stores. We’ll be discussing that in this blog post, including methods for items you’ll find available in your own home.
For Your Garden
There are many insects in our garden that are not harmful to our plants, and are in fact quite beneficial for them, so targeting bugs that you find are harmful to your plants can be tricky because many pesticides are indiscriminate in the insects and pests they eliminate. Some of these helpful insects like ladybugs even help us get rid of unwanted insects like aphids.
You can buy ladybugs specifically for this purpose from gardening stores. Before releasing them however, be sure to spray the area with water to make it more welcoming for them.
You can use oil or soap spray insecticides. You can make oil spray insecticides from 1 cup of vegetable oil and 1 tablespoon of mild soap (often recommended is castile soap) or 1 ½ teaspoons of mild soap and a quart of water – mix thoroughly, and spray on infected plants. It’s recommended that you do this in the early mornings or evenings, and apply as often as necessary.
A popular insecticide for home gardeners is neem oil, and you can purchase this from many stores such as Walmart. Follow the instructions on the bottle, or mix 2 teaspoons of this with a teaspoon of mild soap, and a quart of water. Shake thoroughly, and you can spray this on your garden plants (and it works well when used preventatively too).
Other popular insecticide sprays are garlic and chili pepper. For a garlic insecticide spray, puree 2 bulbs with a quart of water and let it sit overnight. Then strain into a quart jar, add ½ cup vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon of mild soap, and fill the jar with water. For chili pepper, add 1 ½ teaspoons of chili powder to 1 quart or water, and 2 drops of liquid dish soap.
Another method you may want to try is cultivating pest repelling plants themselves, of which there are many. Basil, mint, rosemary, lavender, and petunias, are a few examples of plants that repel pests.
As for gophers in your yard or garden, there are traps you can purchase or set up yourself – however, if you’re not sure what is allowed in your area, or you want to ensure it is removed as humanely as possible, it’s best to call wildlife services or a professional pest control company.
Other methods you can still try to get them to willingly leave your property: gophers have very sensitive noses, and these are a few things you can leave in and around their tunnels to discourage them from staying: mothballs, coffee grounds, fish scraps, dryer sheets, and your pets droppings (cats and dogs are gopher predators, and this is intended to scare the gopher away).
For Your Home
As you probably know, we don’t only share our homes with other people and perhaps our pets – we may not readily see them, but chances are there are also plenty of bugs in and around your house.
So how do we get rid of them and keep them out, safely and naturally?
The insecticide sprays discussed earlier in this article would work on a number of insects that live inside your home as well, such as chili pepper spray for ants.
For more difficult pests such as roaches, there are a few traps you can purchase. Glue traps are effective in catching roaches that stumble unto it, but it won’t affect their nest. Cockroach bait on the other hand, come in child-proof cases, and it is poisoned food that the roach consumes and then takes back to their nest to affect the other roaches there.
Using soap spray on roaches work in that it clogs their breathing pores, however they may be able to recover when the solution dries.
For mice, mousetraps work great. However, note that for these to be effective, you have to know where to place them. Look for their droppings – which are brown pellets – alongside walls, and place 2 mousetraps end-to-end in those areas. The reason for this is that mice may jump over one trap, but they won’t be able to jump over two.
Mousetraps may seem brutal, but they’re the more humane choice between a glue trap that means a slow death for the mouse, and poisons will mean some mice may die and rot where you can’t reach them to properly dispose of them.
As important is securing your home against these pests and preventing reinfestation.
Cut off their water supply. A number of these pests are drawn to moist areas, and roaches need water sooner than they need food to survive. Find and fix any leaks in your house, and make sure to regularly clean out containers that may have accumulated water, as these are also breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
Keep your food properly stored. Don’t leave out dirty dishes overnight as cockroaches may feast on the crumbs left on the plates, and make sure to regularly throw your trash. Keep pet food in closed containers so mice won’t get to them. If there’s no readily available food for these pests in your house, they won’t want to stay.
Lastly, make sure your house is properly sealed. Your walls may look solid, but there are plenty of small cracks where insects and small animals can slip through.
Use caulk and expanding foam to fill any gaps in your exterior and interior walls, and weatherstripping for your doors and windows (if you have netting on your windows, make sure they’re in good shape). Don’t forget to check on your roof and close any gaps, and if you have a chimney, use a cap or guard cover to protect it from birds, raccoons, and other animals. Cut off tree branches that touch the house as these serve as bridges for bugs and other animals.
If a pest issue keeps reoccurring, if you’re not sure about the safety of the store-bought insecticides you’re using, or you want to humanely get rid of birds, raccoons and other unwanted animals, then it may be time to call that professional pest exterminator.
According to the American Pet Products Association, 68% of US households owned a pet in 2018.
That’s around 85 million families, many of which worry about pests in their home and garden too.
So when getting rid of these pests, how safe are our pets in the process?
Chemicals used on lawns have been known to make their way indoors, from our clothes, shoes, and our pet’s paws, and there are pesticides out there in the market that have been shown to increase the risk of cancer in both pets and humans. These pesticides have even contributed to the decline of the bee population across the world.
Most people are not aware of just how many dangerous chemicals there are sold in stores to the average homeowner who may be none the wiser, including flea and ticks preventative products for pets!
But you still need to get rid of unwanted pests that damage your home and garden, and pests that possibly carry diseases that are harmful to you and your pet, so what do you do?
When buying pesticides, make sure you read the warning label – you’ll be surprised to find out products harmful to you and your pets may be sold alongside products that are non-toxic and pet-friendly – and make sure you’re choosing the safer options, whether it is buying pesticides to use yourself or hiring a pest control company to eliminate pests for you.
Some pest control companies offer eco-friendly services and use natural green products, with Watchdog Pest Control only using products that are approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — once dry in 30 to 45 minutes, treated areas are then completely safe for both pets and people alike.
With these green products and services, you can be sure you’re using the safest, most effective products out there to rid your house of unwanted pests.