So, you have a bug infestation in YOUR basement.
And it’s freaking you out every time you go down those stairs.
Is it a spider? Or tons of silverfish? How about flying insects that buzz around the single bulb-like how it is in the movies?
Or is it…a millipede with many legs!
Or, maybe, it’s a centipede. Stuck right there on the wall.
Whatever it is, it’s there because your basement provides a sense of security with the enclosed, protected environment from the outdoors.
It’s dark, which is favorable to them. And it’s humid, which allows them to breed successfully.
Are you grossed out yet?
In this guide, we’ll talk about these topics:
- The types of bugs that live in your basement
- Different ways to naturally get rid of them
- How to prevent future pest problems
- Various commercial sprays, bug bombs, and traps you can use
- And more
If you have any questions, feel free to post a comment at the end of this article for help (as always).
Sound good? Let’s get rid of those creepy crawlies.
What kind of bugs live in basements?
Many different types of bugs and insects may infest your basement.
Because of the pleasant conditions that are favorable to them.
Your basement is dark, humid, and probably devoid of any disturbances from humans and other pets.
So it’s no surprise that these creepy crawlies like to take shelter in there.
Here’s are some common types of basement bugs you’ll find living in there.
Common bugs found in basements:
- Centipedes (house centipede)
- Pillbugs (roly-polys)
- Cockroaches (water bug in basement)
- Little black bugs
- Flying bugs
Depending on where you live, how sealed your basement is, the humidity, other predators, and other things, this can affect the type of insect you’re dealing with.
Let’s find out how to get rid of those pesky bugs in your basement.
How are bugs getting into my basement?
They’re likely getting in from various entryways you overlooked or never knew existed.
They’re drawn to places that are dark, damp, and protected from the cold or heat. This is why they come into your basement through various cracks and crevices.
Some of the following entry points are common for basement-dwelling pests:
- Basement window cracks
- HVAC systems
- Through damaged bricks or mortar
- Under doorways
- Cracks and crevices
- Plumbing inlets or outlets
- Damaged exteriors
- Flying insects depositing eggs inside the basement
- Laundry clothing
- Indoor plants
- Pet hair
- Infested foods
- Plant soils
- Laundry clothing
- Damaged grates
Why does my basement have so many bugs?
Your basement is home to many bugs because of the shelter, warmth, and humidity it provides.
Cockroaches especially need this to properly breed, which is why the basement is a suitable environment for them to live in and thrive.
But there are things you can do to completely eradicate bugs in your basement and stop future pests for good.
You may find some bugs that run away when you switch on the lights. You may find some dead ones also.
Or you may find debris, frass (poop), shed skin, eggs, or webs. It’s a mishmash of bug madness in there. And you’re here to clean it up!
How to get rid of bugs in your basement naturally
Let’s talk about some ways you can get rid of insects in your basement naturally.
Avoid the use of dangerous, synthetic compounds when possible.
You don’t want residues lingering around your home even if you don’t spend time in the basement because they can rise to your living room, kitchen, and even your bedroom over time.
Focus on natural or organic pest control when possible.
Here are some various ways to get bugs out of your basement and control them naturally.
Find your pest and read for detailed instructions.
Lower the humidity
This will be a repeating motif throughout this guide.
Your basement is humid because it traps moisture in the air and dissipates it very slowly, which is what makes it attractive to so many bugs.
If you can find a way to drop the humidity to extremely low levels, this can help deter and naturally repel bugs from establishing shelter there in the first place.
After all, they need moisture to breed because their eggs and hard exterior shells depend on some degree of wetness in the air.
If it’s too dry (low humidity), the eggs may not hatch and bugs may have difficulty completing a molt (where they shed off their outer layer).
Depending on your basement, there are many different ways you can lower relative humidity.
Some of the easiest ways are the following:
- Add a fan to blow out air
- Install a dehumidifier
- Remove excess water
- Turn off HVAC units
- Check for leaky plumbing
- Remove basement plants
- Keep basement vents and grates open
- Open windows
This should help bring down the ambient humidity to acceptable levels that are not favorable to basement bugs.
Use a humidity meter to monitor the local percentage.
Aim for a relative humidity (RH) of 20% or lower.
If you have a big basement that’s well insulated, this will take longer to drop. Smaller, leaky basements are easy to control.
Keep the basement clutter-free
Bugs that find their way into your basement need somewhere to hide.
These pests exhibit negative phototaxis, meaning they don’t like the light. That’s why they’re there in the first place!
If you use your basement to store junk (excess furniture, old magazines, and books, clothing, appliances, computers, etc.), it just provides them with plenty of places to hide.
This is called clutter. I’m sure you’ve heard of it.
Clutter not only houses pests, but it also gives them a stable food source they can rely on.
Think about it: Smaller pests hide in the basement between cracks and crevices in your junk storage.
Bigger pests come out and eat those smaller pests. Then even bigger pests eat those big ones. They feed each other in a small ecosystem in your basement. Isn’t that neat?
Getting rid of your storage is key. Keep it clean and free of junk. If you have a lot of things in there, it’ll take time. But it pays off.
You want a lot of open space and no clutter. Get rid of things like:
- Magazines and books
- Storage crates and bins
- Old clothing
- Exercise equipment
- Preserved food
You can trash, donate, or relocate your storage items. If you must store them, use airtight plastic bins to keep bugs out.
For larger units, consider using a tarp to protect them and keep bugs out.
Objects with lots of small entry points (computers, equipment, etc.) are houses to tons of spiders, silverfish, roaches, and more creepy crawlies.
Get rid of objects or keep them secure that are porous and provide shelter. This will greatly reduce the number of bugs hiding in your basement.
Remove food sources
Some people keep food in their basement as emergency supplies or use it as a storage center for dry/preserved goods.
Oftentimes, bugs can chew right through paper or plastic packaging and get to the goods.
Dry goods like grains, rice, pasta, powder, flour, sugar, salt, pet food, etc. are targets for flying insects.
The basement provides a dark area and plenty of food for them to eat and breed, so if you see flying bugs in your basement, you’re likely dealing with a pest eating dry goods.
Protect your dry goods by storing them in hard, thick plastic bins that are impregnable for pests.
Don’t just toss the bags onto a random shelf and call it a day. It just takes one flying moth to find it and then deposit eggs inside.
The small beetles/weevils will then eat the goods. They can also chew through the packaging of newer foods you store.
Whether you have bugs in your apartment basement, condo, townhouse, studio, or house, it’s the food they’re after! Nothing else.
Other crawling insects like cockroaches can also chew through plastics and paper goods.
So keep your food storage secure or remove it entirely if possible.
Get rid of plants
If you have any indoor plants in your basement, this can be a major contributor to bugs.
They can be living in the plant’s soil or feeding off the plant matter, or both.
If you have a hydroponic system or indoor garden that you’re tending to in the basement, you’ll want to do whatever you can to control the pests.
If it’s just a few indoor plants, consider relocating them outdoors or out of the basement.
This will eliminate the problem right away.
But if you have a large plot of plants that you’re growing indoors, find the pest that’s hiding in them and get rid of it.
Depending on what it is, there’s a way to target it directly. Search this site for guides using the search bar. I’ve written a lot of guides and your pest is likely covered.
Repair any cracks
Pests get inside your basement through cracks and crevices for the most part.
If you can seal up these entry points, you can greatly reduce the number of bugs getting in.
This will stop basement insects from taking shelter and stop any other non-basement bugs from finding their way into your home.
It’s well worth the effort and taking a weekend to carefully patch up or repair any possible entry points will pay off immediately.
Pests get in through damaged walls, gaps around plumbing, worn weather-stripping around windows, HVAC units, doorways, or even smuggled in through food storage.
They can also enter through your home and find their way into the basement as well, so be wary of that.
If you’ve patched up your basement and excluded any possible entry source, they may be coming in from OUTSIDE the basement (such as your kitchen or living room) and then coming down into it. So check the rest of your home also.
If you don’t know how to find these entryways, don’t have time, or simply don’t have the experience to patch or repair, hire a professional to do it for you.
They can also do the inspection and find any cracks that you missed. Find a local company. Read some reviews. And patch it up to keep basement bugs out.
Plumbing problems contribute to excess moisture in your basement, which attracts a variety of pests that depend on it to grow.
Roaches, drain flies, silverfish, spiders, sowbugs, and more are all moisture-dependent. If you have leaky plumbing, repair it or hire a professional to help.
There may be leaks hidden behind the walls or above the ceiling that can be providing water to pests out of sight.
Condensed water from HVAC units (air conditioning, heaters, etc.) can also contribute to water sources, where you see it or not.
You can use a leak detector to check for hidden moisture sources or hire a pro to do it for you.
This is a necessary step to rid your home of bugs and will help prevent damage to your property (and prevent mold problems later on). Don’t skimp on this!
Keep the lights on
If you spend a considerable amount of time in the basement for other activities (game room, lounge, TV room, or maybe it’s your home office), consider keeping the lights on to keep bugs away.
Of course, this isn’t energy efficient or kind to your electrical bill.
But if you’re using energy-efficient lights paired with renewable solar energy, it may be worth considering keeping the lights on at least until you get rid of the big issue.
This will deter them from coming out when you switch off the lights and foraging for food. The light will keep them hiding and could halt them from breeding and feeding, which may reduce their overall population.
Keep bright lights on directed at the areas you commonly see pests crawling or flying about.
Do this until you rid the infestation to help minimize their numbers and disturb their lifecycle entirely. Insects in the basements hate light.
So you can use it to keep them in hiding while you eliminate their population.
How to get rid of bugs in your basement
Here are some tips and trick for getting rid of specific insects you may come across- find your bug and learn how to manage it.
Earwigs, also known as pincher bugs, are those long, slender brown or black pests that look similar to silverfish.
The major difference is that earwigs have those large pinchers at the tail end. They love humid areas that have little to no light.
So your basement makes a perfect environment for them to thrive.
There are some easy ways to control earwigs found in your basement.
First, declutter everything possible to remove possible hiding places.
Earwigs tend to gather in tight corners and objects where they can hide under. This includes cardboard boxes, magazines, and books.
Next, lower the humidity.
Use the tips outlined in this guide to bring down the ambient humidity to 20% or lower. This itself is generally “good enough” to drive earwigs out.
You’ll have to keep it low forever unless you want them to find their way back in.
Set up some sticky traps or use sticky tape. Line the perimeter of your basement with the adhesive.
Since earwigs can only walk, they need to walk over the adhesive to get to where they need to go.
You can use these sticky traps to protect your storage and keep them out. Examine the traps frequently and assess the situation.
Earwigs rarely will lead to huge infestations and can be controlled by exclusion.
Check out this handy, complete guide for natural earwig control.
Drain flies may look like tiny black bugs that buzz around any drains you have.
They may also hang around sinks, faucets, showers, bathrooms, laundry rooms, storm drains, or any room with a source of water.
They hide in the sludge that builds up in drains and they eat the bacteria that grow in it.
Adult drain flies also deposit their eggs in the slime to protect the young larvae.
Pretty nasty, huh? These tiny little bugs buzz away when you come near your basement drain, but will fly around the drain going in and out throughout the day.
Drain flies can be controlled using some DIY home remedies. There are a lot of them.
Some are just basic mixtures of vinegar and baking soda. Others are more extreme.
Eliminating them just takes time. Cleaning up the sludge is your priority.
After that’s done, they don’t have anywhere to lay eggs and will leave on their own.
But if they’re deep in your drain or you can’t remove the grate/strainer, you can use some mixtures at home to pour down the drain, which should kill drain flies.
Gnats, flies, or other flying insects
Flying pests are commonly seen flying around the basement.
They can include a variety of flying insects, such as:
They may also be confused with weevils, Indian pantry moths, or other moths that are found eating stored dry goods.
If you use your basement as storage for foods, pasta, grains, cereals, flours, sugars, pet foods, or other dry goods, it may become infested with beetles, moths, weevils, and other bugs that have a flying component in its lifecycle.
This is commonly seen as a swarm of bugs that fly around lights or warm sources.
You can check out the guides linked above for tips and tricks on eliminating each type of flying bug.
Generally, the steps are the same:
- Throw out any infested goods in secure trash bags
- Secure all infested goods in airtight, thick containers
- Apply sticky tape around the infested area
- Continue to monitor for future pests
Once food has been infested with any flying pest, the bug likely laid eggs all over the food and package. So toss it out.
The last thing you want to do is to go through the process of cleaning everything only to see a single moth scurrying about and laying eggs everywhere.
If you have water bugs in the basement, this can be extremely difficult to control because cockroaches are invulnerable.
Their hard shell protects them from even the most powerful pest killer and they can escape without their heads! There are different types of roaches each with different behavioral patterns.
There are German roaches, Oriental roaches, and the traditional American roach (which are the biggest!).
All of them may be found in the basement, bathrooms, attics, or living rooms of the standard house.
They’re also found in garages, sheds, outhouses, gardens, and crawl spaces.
They’re everywhere. All over the world. They coexist with humans.
We provide them food and shelter. They provide us companionship?
Cockroaches will require a multiple-step approach to fully eradicate.
I suggest starting with removing all sources of food available to them- they do eat cardboard and paper, as both provide a source of energy for them.
Roaches also eat glue, books, wallpaper, and even plastic packaging. They’ll scour through your dry goods storage, eat your magazines and newspapers, and even eat pest killer!
After removing all sources of food (your basement should be barren by now), add in some sticky traps and diatomaceous earth.
Put the sticky traps around areas that the roaches are using to come into the basement or using to exit. This will force them to walk over the trap before they enter or exit.
Next, line the entire perimeter of the basement with boric acid or diatomaceous earth xyz If you have boric acid, use it.
Otherwise, food-grade organic diatomaceous earth will have to do xyz.
Don’t overdo it because they’re known to avoid clumps of powder. Lightly dust the basement. Everywhere.
Boric acid may cause some adverse effects to individuals and pets, so keep out of the area during the process. Read the labels and use as directed.
Diatomaceous earth is a lot more friendly to people (it’s a dietary supplement) but not as effective against roaches as boric acid. You should still exercise caution and use it as directed.
So now you have a clean basement lined with sticky traps and boric acid or DE. When a roach steps over the powder, it’ll slowly kill them over time.
It can wipe out everything- a roach nest can be controlled just by a single application because they eat each other and continually perpetuate the powdery crystals between each roach.
It basically cuts up their insides and makes them dehydrate.
Lastly, add some peppermint oil around the area. This will help deter them and repel them from the basement.
For complete roach control, check out these guides for your specific roach.
If you don’t know what roach you have, there are ways to identify the differences between American, Oriental, and German roaches in the basement within each guide:
Pillbugs (also known as sowbugs, woodlice, potato bugs, or roly polys) are moisture-loving pests.
Why do I have pill bugs in my basement?
If you have humidity trapped in your basement, leaky plumbing, or water coming in from the outdoors, these can all pool together and make it an environment perfect for pillbugs to thrive in.
Although these pests are harmless, they can be alarming in huge numbers when you move an object or lift something.
They tend to congregate together under shelter and prefer to hide during the day or when the lights are on.
Pillbugs are easy to get rid of. Simply removing the source of moisture should be enough to naturally repel sowbugs from your home.
If you have an indoor garden, hydroponic setup, or plumbing that you don’t plan on fixing anytime soon, then there are other methods you can utilize to get rid of them:
Sprinkle food-grade diatomaceous earth around the basement. Line the perimeter of the area and around objects you see them gathering under. Use as directed.
Eliminate indoor plants or line them with DE as well.
Line the area with sticky tape to make an invisible barrier. Bugs that cross will get stuck to the tape. You can put the tape under door gaps xyz to keep roly polys out of your living quarters.
Place a large cantaloupe that’s been sliced open in the area. The scent of the fruit will keep them away.
You can also cut the fruit into cubes and place the slices strategically around the perimeter as a natural barrier.
Centipedes love the basement because of the dark and humid environment it provides.
These are different from millipedes because they have wide legs that are “flatter” than millipedes, which are vertical.
Regardless of which pest is inside your basement, they’re both freaky to find crawling across the room- especially when you switch on the lights and they go running with their many legs.
Centipedes thrive in wet environments because they need the moisture to properly satiate their outer exoskeleton.
They’re also nocturnal creatures, so they like the dark.
Your basement likely provides both of these requirements, so it’s not surprising that they’re crawling around.
These bugs are predators and forage during the night (nocturnal) for food.
You can bring down their population by practicing many of the same techniques as with any other basement insect found in this guide:
- Lower ambient humidity to 20% or lower
- Install a fan or dehumidifier to discourage centipedes from taking shelter
- Clean up clutter
- Exclude them by patching up damaged areas that centipedes are using to get inside
Here’s a guide on centipede control you can use.
If you’re walking down to the basement and you spot a long, worm-like creature with lots of legs, it’s probably a millipede.
These stick to the lower surfaces and will hide between old boxes, crates, books, and other junk you have lying around.
They like the dark and also need a wet environment just like centipedes.
You can get rid of them by eliminating their food source, cleaning up the area, and using a ton of sticky traps or sticky tape around the perimeter of the room.
They stick to areas that they can hide and feel safe when they’re touching a solid surface.
So you can imagine they tunnel through cracks, walk along baseboards, and hide inside fabrics. A few solutions are to use mothballs in enclosed containers which release fumes that deter millipedes from living there.
But be careful about releasing these fumes into the house as mothballs are toxic. Read all directions before you use them.
Essential oils, especially peppermint or eucalyptus, can be sprayed around the basement and inside storage units to naturally repel millipedes.
I wrote a guide on DIY natural millipede control if you need more information.
Crickets prefer the dark, and your basement is a suitable environment that provides them a safe and secure place to hide.
They like small, cramped places that are protected from cold, heat, and wind. The chirping of the loud males can be crazy, so it’s in your best interest to act quickly and get rid of them from your property ASAP.
Besides, you don’t need them crawling up into your home and chirping even more.
Crickets can be controlled and eliminated with basic measures.
Boric acid, DE, sticky boards, DIY cricket traps xyz, commercial repellents, and essential oils can help get rid of them. Keeping your home neat, tidy, and organized will also stop them from taking shelter.
Seeing them crawl around your house at night?
They’re probably seeking food or shelter. Read this guide for natural cricket remedies you can try.
Ants will infest anywhere they can that provides them with the necessities.
Although ants aren’t common in the basement, they may use it as a path to get to their anthill or traverse through the basement plumbing to get inside the house. The easiest thing to do is to watch the ant trail and see where they’re coming from.
Patch or repair the entryway and get rid of water, which is necessary to any ant species.
There may be some water source behind the wall or above the ceiling which you can’t see, so you’ll need to hire a leak detection company to come to check for you.
Ants will leave behind noticeable trails to get inside the home and you can trace them to their entry point for extermination.
Basic DIY approaches like diatomaceous earth, boric acid, sticky traps, essential oils, and sugar traps are all excellent ways to deter them from crawling through your basement.
Find your ant:
Why do I have so many spiders in my basement?
Spiders should be no surprise.
They live in the dark, isolated crawl spaces of your home and can thrive just about anywhere. If your basement has other pests, spiders will be present. That’s the kicker.
They need other bugs to eat when they spin their webs, so they rely on the presence of a stable food source, or else they’ll leave the area.
Most spiders are beneficial to have in the house. They help catch prey that would otherwise be a nuisance.
If you can stand spiders, consider just letting them be and hanging out in there. They may be controlling other pest populations and keeping them in check. You may see other bugs rise in numbers if you kill the spiders.
To clear your basement quickly, remove all other pests. That’s easier than it sounds, but it’s how you can do it guaranteed.
They don’t care or have a preference for moisture. They just like the isolation, food, and clutter to build a web.
Here are some basic tips:
- Clean out all webbing
- Remove all clutter
- Eliminate other pests
- Relocate any spiders you come across
- Use DIY, natural spider repellents
- Seal up your home from entryways
- Remove spider eggs
Depending on the spider type you’re dealing with, here are some guides you may find useful:
How to keep bugs out of your basement
Keeping bugs out is the easy part.
Getting rid of them is the hard part.
Thankfully, once you’ve taken care of the infestation once, it’s just a matter of keeping on top of maintenance.
As usual, follow the regular guidelines to bug-proof your basement permanently:
- Don’t let moisture build up
- Keep the walls and exteriors in good conditions
- Repair and patch any damaged portions
- Caulk any foundational cracks
- Fix leaky plumbing
- Install a dehumidifier or add fans to bring the humidity down
- Use energy-efficient lighting to make it less favorable for dark-dwelling insects
- Remove clutter and debris
- Pack everything in airtight, plastic containers
Install sticky traps or insect traps dedicated to catching whatever pest you’re dealing with- this will act as a measuring tool to gauge the infestation over time.
When you start to notice the population picking up (i.e. you’re catching more bugs), there may be a new generation of them hatching, a change in seasons, or a new entry point.
Don’t ignore these bug population jumps. Do an examination and see.
You can often eliminate them before they infest your property. But you have to do your due diligence. No one can do this part for you!
Commercial bug sprays
If you have to resort to using commercial sprays, opt for something organic or natural.
Many sprays contain harmful compounds for both pests and humans (and pets), so you don’t want these poisonous compounds lingering around your property.
Just because you spray it down in the cellar or basement doesn’t make it safe. Residues will float and seep into other parts of your home, perhaps when you spend your time!
When looking for a commercial bug spray for basement pests, ensure the following:
- It eliminates the bug you have (listed on the label)
- Is approved for indoor use, especially in a poorly ventilated area
Try to get natural sprays only. Use as directed. Follow all labels before applying. Consult an expert for additional advice.
There is no “best” bug spray- it completely depends on your situation. Read some reviews and do some research to find a suitable one.
I suggest getting one that has a return policy just in case it doesn’t work out- many big chain home improvement stores should have this policy.
Can you bug bomb just the basement?
Bug bombs are hit or miss. Also called total release foggers, they’re effective when used properly in the right scenario.
You should consult with a professional first before you use one.
Each fogger has an effective range, measured in cubic feet. They should NEVER be used around sources of ignition, such as those from appliances, pilot lights, sparks, flames, etc.
You must also evacuate the property and notify others who may enter for the specified period until it’s clear to enter again.
Then, the room must be aired out before you go back. Since most people only have a few windows down there, it’s not easy to ventilate.
Thus, you should avoid using indoor foggers for basement pests. If you decide to do so, you must follow the label at the times AND consult with a licensed professional exterminator before you do. They can be extremely harmful if misused.
For some people, they work wonders because the gas they release gets into the tightest crevices that you normally can’t reach.
They also penetrate walls and entry points that are invisible to an untrained professional.
However, bug bombs also have strict usage scenarios for them to work efficiently. The risk they involve is not worth the convenience. You should NOT use them and focus on other, natural means to control the pest problem.
Can I bomb my basement and stay upstairs?
No, you’ll need to evacuate the house anyway when you release the fogger.
No pets, people, or others can enter the area during the treatment time (typically up to 5 hours).
You MUST read the label and make sure it’s approved for it. Even then, you should avoid using them entirely.
Since the gas they release is toxic, you don’t want to misread the label. Basements are poorly ventilated and will trap the gas for an extended period. This will make ventilating it extremely difficult, so you should avoid using foggers when possible.
This could be dangerous to people and pets in the immediate area- especially if the home has poor ventilation overall.
If you choose to go this route, make sure you use it as directed and FOLLOW THE LABEL. Read all warnings and consult a professional exterminator before using.
Keep the number for Poison Control by your side.
Basement bug traps
Bug traps are preferred rather than sprays.
This is because they don’t have those aerosol compounds that linger and they’re focused one for purpose- catching bugs.
They also serve as a monitoring tool that you can utilize to see where the bugs are coming from, what areas have the highest concentration, and whether or not your DIY pest control efforts are working or not.
Stick with sticky traps or sticky boards and place them strategically around the basement of your property.
They should be applied in areas that you’ve seen pest activity or possible entry points. Use as directed.
Here are some additional references you may find useful:
- Bugs in basement : HomeImprovement – Reddit
- Negative Phototaxis from Blue Light and the Role of Third Rhodopsinlike Pigment in Halobacterium Cutirubrum – NCBI
- Would running a dehumidifier in the basement help with bugs – Reddit
Did you get rid of the basement bugs?
You should now have a good idea of how to control, manage, and repel those pests in your basement for good.
It’ll take some time to clean up, organize, and get rid of the clutter, but it pays off. Reduce the moisture. Sprinkle some diatomaceous earth. Use essential oils. You can do it!
If you have any questions, post a comment below and I’ll try to help you out ASAP.
If you found this guide helpful (or it needs improvement), drop your feedback for me and let me know.
Consider telling a friend if you found it somewhat useful! Your neighbors likely have the same pest problem!
Thanks for reading.
Currently an active researcher in the pest control industry for the past 8 years- with a focus on using natural and organic methods to eliminate pest problems.
I share handy DIY pest techniques I come across here to help out others (and possibly save them from a mental breakdown).
Fight nature with nature.