I need to kill one pest while protecting another.
October 15, 2009 9:43 AM   Subscribe

We have spiders and pill bugs in our basement. I want to spray for them, but I also have pet rats that I like to let wander around on occasion, and don't want them to get sick. Is there a natural bug spray that is rodent safe? (I know, our basement sounds like a fun place)

My nine-year-old is sleeping on the couch until I take care of the bugs. I also need to figure out how all of the pill bugs are getting into our basement bathroom.
posted by mecran01 to Pets & Animals (11 answers total)
Pill bugs/woodlice are related to crustaceans (prawns etc) and so need to live in damp places. Eliminating the damp conditions (if possible - maybe check for leaks or improve ventilation?) should mean they won't want to live there any more.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 10:07 AM on October 15, 2009

Response by poster: "Pill bugs/woodlice are related to crustaceans (prawns etc)"

I will think of them as basement crawdads from now on.
posted by mecran01 at 10:55 AM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

Just, you know, don't try to boil 'em up!
posted by InsanePenguin at 11:18 AM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Orange Guard is a sprayable insecticide that is safe to use around mammals (unless they have an allergy to oranges, I suppose).

I've found that it works great for pill bugs, ok for smaller spiders, and it only seems to annoy big spiders; however, it is sort of expensive. Also, it does smell kinda nice in its own way, at least way better than Raid and the like.
posted by Silly Ashles at 1:35 PM on October 15, 2009

A mix of tobacco, dish soap, garlic, and hot peppers steeped in water is a well-known "green" garden insecticide - and any rat that repeatedly licked that has bigger problems than food poisoning (but, aside from mild diarrhea from the soap, none of the ingredients are poisonous within the lifespan of the average rat).

1 tsp of each in a quart of water, IIRC.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:10 PM on October 15, 2009

PS - I'd preferentially spray it along wall edges.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:10 PM on October 15, 2009

If your basement is that damp, you likely have more serious problems to resolve. Pill bugs seem to live in rotted wood, which is not good in your home.
posted by theora55 at 2:41 PM on October 15, 2009

theora55, that's not necessarily true. My last house was 105 years old, with a massively broken basement floor that seeped so much water it puddled when it rained, through the broken foundation floor. But the walls were solid - mortised stone.

Wet basement != serious problems.
posted by IAmBroom at 3:21 PM on October 15, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the possible solutions. The pill bugs seem to be coming out of the bathroom, which is damp. The window is leaky so we put plastic over it.
posted by mecran01 at 3:34 PM on October 15, 2009

Also try doing the outside perimeter of your house with a "real" insecticide, which may help stop them from entering.
posted by Knowyournuts at 4:36 PM on October 15, 2009

If you think they are finding cracks to get in, then a tube of silicone caulk is probably your best friend. If the bathroom is always damp, you may need to install a fan.

I would try to dehumidify the basement while cleaning up any debris, etc. that serves to encourage the critters. Caulk around all the windows there, too. If there is a wall that seems to bring in moisture, perhaps a product like Dry-Lok to inhibit that.

A common source of moisture in older homes now is the chimney. Does yours have a cap? If you have a modern furnace, the exhaust used to dry out the brick, but it may be vented out the side of your house now.
posted by dhartung at 7:52 PM on October 15, 2009

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