Whether your basement is a finished family room, a child’s play area, laundry room, home gym, or workshop—or even if it’s just a messy storage area—you don’t want to be afraid to go down into it because crawling creatures have made themselves at home in this part of YOUR home.
Why are basements such a draw for bugs, mice, and rats, and how can we keep them out and take back our space?
The truth is, no matter how nicely decorated our basements are, a basement is an environment that closely resembles that of a cave. Spiders, millipedes, silverfish, ground beetles and mites are among the species that are attracted to ecosystems that are damp and dark. Studies have determined that basements are easier for insects and rodents to access than the upper floors of a home, which is the reason that they tend to have a more abundant insect population. Basements with carpets had a higher concentration of insects than those with hard surface flooring.
Because basements are underground, insects and rodents can more easily dig their way inside.
According to pest control experts, the points of access that pests commonly use to work their way into homes are often pipes and lines that lead into basements. The basement of homes are also the foundation, which means there are often cracks that can be entry points for creatures. Because basements are often dark and sometimes cluttered, they are an ideal environment for creatures to feel safely hidden. This means that creatures that might otherwise have been passing through your basement may decide to settle in and make themselves at home.
While basements make good storage areas, keeping a cluttered, disorganized basement environment is like putting out the welcome mat for creatures. Messy basements provide plenty of opportunities for bugs, mice, and rats to make cozy nests under the cover of relative darkness, in places that are rarely disturbed. The moisture from condensation and dripping pipes give creatures the water supply they need in which to thrive. Once you have a diverse group of insects living in your basement, other creatures will follow—such as spiders who will want to feast on the bugs living in your basement which has now become a good hunting opportunity for them. Mice will also find this new ecosystem attractive, and it’s a warm cozy place for them to set up housekeeping. Before you know it—your basement is a place that’s friendly to everything BUT you and your family.
Pest control experts tell us that blocking entrance to your basement is critical for keeping out unwanted creatures. One easy tip is to turn off the lights in your basement (if you dare!) and look around to see where any light comes through from outside These are the areas that you need to calk or block to keep out invaders. Pay special attention to places where pipes and wires enter your basement.
Using a dehumidifier in your basement will help to reduce the moisture that attracts silverfish and other insects and mice. Removing clutter and storing items in sealed lidded plastic tubs will remove hiding areas and make your basement environment hostile TO creatures rather than a hostel FOR creatures.
Once you’ve worked to prevent more bugs from coming in, there are ways to get rid of the ones who’ve already made themselves at home. Arm yourself with the best roach killers to rid your basement of what’s probably the most disgusting of the bug life going on down there. Roaches can carry bacteria such as salmonella and E.coli. A roach spray, followed by placing baits and glue traps will usually do the trick to get rid of roaches. For a particularly persistent roach population you may need to call in a professional pest control service.
A fogger will usually get rid of any flying insects in your basement and will kill the spiders as well.
If you want to avoid chemical sprays, you can try using peppermint, lemongrass, and lavender essential oils to help to deter bugs from your basement. While these oils smell great to humans, most insects can’t tolerate them.
Ants can be a different sort of pest to get rid of because they tend to keep coming back until you’ve killed the queen. For this reason, sprays are not very effective on invading ants, as they only kill the worker ants and more are likely to follow. Instead, use baits that will lure the ants in and allow they to carry the poison back to their queen to destroy the entire colony.
Mice and rats will also find a basement a cozy place to set up housekeeping. These rodents chew their way into warm spaces like your basement and make nests with materials commonly found in basements such as insulation, old newspapers, and furniture stuffing. They are more likely to move into your home in the fall and winter when they are seeking a warmer environment.
You can help to keep them out by discouraging them from getting inside to begin with. Keeping planted bushes and shrubs several feet away from the outer walls of your home will help to discourage rodents from getting in. Cut firewood should also be stacked away from the walls of your home. Tree branches should be trimmed away from your home so rodents can’t use them to gain entry. Avoid having dripping spigots or standing water close to the outer walls of your home.
For rodents such as rats and mice, you will have to do more than spray pesticides or essential oils. A good rat poison will rid your basement of these disease-carrying creatures. Typically, rat poisons take about a week to work completely. Because rats are wiley, they test their food before feasting. They will have a tiny nibble and wait a day to test for effects before coming back for more. For this reason, rat poison is formulated to take time before it works.
Mice can be removed with traps or poison. Keep in mind that with traps, you will have to dispose of the remains.
Once you’ve rid your basement of rodents and insects, it’s important to keep them out. Besides blocking any entrance points and storing clutter in sealed bins, you can help protect your basement from invaders by removing any food, or storing food in sealed, air-tight containers.
Follow these tips and take your basement back from the bugs!