April 25, 2006 8:14 PM   Subscribe

Gah!Filter: Today I woke up, and there were bugs. Everywhere.

I live in the basement of an old house and I guess there are cracks in the walls, but I don't know where.

For the last couple of days, I've been catching spiders every time I wake up from a nap/nights sleep or return home from being out for a while. Typically, I turn on the lights to find 4 or 6 or so hiding on the ceiling or in cracks. Sometimes I'll find the odd ant or potato bug meandering about on the walls, but nothing really too gross.

But today... today when I woke up from what is likely to be the last nap I ever take in this room, I found about 5 of these delightful fellows camped out on the walls by my head. They were big one's, too. Apparently they react to light, because when I turned on a lamp, they scattered. I managed to nail one with a book, but the others are somewhere under my bed. I know they're there. I can feel them. Watching me.

But I doubt these will be the last I see of these things. Have any of you guys ever dealt with an infestation like this? Is it going to get worse, or better, as the weather becomes warmer? And what am I going to do, save from sleeping will all the lights on? Do I have to move?
posted by Drunken_munky to Home & Garden (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I would call an exterminator, or have my landlord call one if you're renting. That's just too creepy crawly to have to deal with. Chances are they have to find the entrance points and seal them and also. .. well, exterminate.
posted by visual mechanic at 8:19 PM on April 25, 2006

Best answer: I had this (horrible, horrible) problem in an old building I used to live in. I agree with visual on calling a landlord, etc. but in the meantime, buy some caulk and a caulking gun at the hardware store (very cheap) and seal every single place you can think of - baseboards, windows, the grouts in between bathroom tiles and around the tub... Especially in the bathroom! It solved the problem for me.
posted by piers at 8:26 PM on April 25, 2006

Count your blessings: House centipedes feed on spiders, termites, cockroaches, silverfish and other household pests. For this reason, house centipedes are considered among the most beneficial creatures that inhabit human dwellings,...
posted by hortense at 8:33 PM on April 25, 2006

From your link: Should one find it impossible to coexist with them, eliminating house centipedes involves drying up the areas where they could thrive. Another method would be eliminating large indoor insect populations and sealing cracks in the walls.

But, uh, it also says they're eating your spiders.
posted by Krrrlson at 8:34 PM on April 25, 2006

Well, continuing with hortense's logic, spiders eat tons of insects too. Imagine how worse the problem would be without the spiders and the centipedes. Not the most attractive housecleaners though.

To answer your question, whether you have to move depends on whether, even after the problem is fixed via extermination / landlord intervention, you can still psychologically sleep in that room without feeling that crawling sensation on your skin. I lived in a similar apartment at one time, but I was glad it was only temporary.
posted by banished at 9:14 PM on April 25, 2006

My old apartment had those gross million-legged bugs. I bought a can of Raid and sprayed it around the nooks and crannies on the floor of the bathroom, and behind the fridge and wherever else I had seen a bug. Raid smells bad and it's definitely toxic and probably bad for the environment, but it worked great and I haven't seen a bug since. Try Raid. Then start looking for a new apartment. A basement space probably won't stay bug-free for long.
posted by bonheur at 9:19 PM on April 25, 2006

I've been trying to figure out what those things are called for years! My mom always called them silverfish, but I knew that wasn't right.

Anyway, yeah, we get them every now and then, but seeing a whole group at once would probably make me bug out and run from the house, a la SimAnt.
posted by danb at 9:42 PM on April 25, 2006

I'd get a can of spray foam and caulk, and thoroughly seal all cracks, especially where plumbing comes in. Also weatherstrip the bottoms of exterior doors. Sure you can't bugproof it and it won't do much for what's inside, but it will make a difference. It will keep the ecosystem from shuffling in and out.
posted by rolypolyman at 10:39 PM on April 25, 2006

Fluffies! I love fluffies. Cute!
posted by lorrer at 10:40 PM on April 25, 2006

My parents' house has a lot of bugs. I've seen those house centipede guys around from time to time, but the worst of the lot make those guys look positively tame. I've caught a few of them that are too big around to fit under a pint glass without pinching their legs.

Still, in nearly 20 years of cohabitation nobody in my house has been bitten, despite seeing them daily in the fall. They stay away from people. Despite the fact that I hate spiders with a passion we've always seen them as being welcome and beneficial.

If it's really a problem, get some spray foam and caulking compund and seal any cracks and gaps in windows. The fall is the worst - they come in from the cold.
posted by jimmythefish at 12:03 AM on April 26, 2006

My problem was (and is) cockroaches - huge big things like surfboards with legs.
After trying most of the sprays on the market I got a heavy-duty outdoor surface spray and laid it down in all the dark corners where they like to scuttle, around obvious access points such as windows and around and on doors, as well as inside cupboards - particularly corners. (Disclaimer: all my food is in plastic or glass containers and the kitchen is washed obsessively)

This will work well on the understanding that a) it's as toxic as hell and b) you will find dead bodies strewn across the floor each morning.
posted by ninazer0 at 4:43 AM on April 26, 2006

I know it sounds hokey as hell, but we have a couple of those Black-and-Decker electronic bug repeller things -- they plug into the wall. We got them at Home Depot. We see far fewer bugs now.
posted by Medieval Maven at 5:15 AM on April 26, 2006

Best answer: While this does sound bad, nothing (and I mean NOTHING) will compare to the time my wife and I were renting a basement apartment, and a termite nest decided to swarm _into our apartment_.

We literally woke up at like 3am with winged termites in our mouths, hair, and covering every surface of the room.

I still sometimes wake screaming.
posted by griffey at 6:31 AM on April 26, 2006 [2 favorites]

Well, I don't know how useful this will be but I can tell you that I entirely cleared the kitchen of our New York apartment of cockroaches for over six months. This is a place where we get a visit from the exterminator once a month and it does next to no good because so many people in adjacent apartments don't make sure to be around to let him in. A perennial New York problem.

Anyway, it got to where we had so many of the little bastards scuttling openly around the place that I decided to nuke.

1. Take everything out of the room except stuff that can easily be cleaned afterwards. Definitely take anything related to food out. Oh, and pets.

2. Open all cupboard doors, etc.

3. Stand one of these (or similar) in the middle of the room, set it off, leave, close the door behind you.

4. Don't go in there for as long as you can leave it.

5. Clean the place thoroughly. Move your stuff back in.

6. Put some more normal, restrained bug-killing traps and/or sprays down around cracks and wall bases.

7. Enjoy your bug-free room.
posted by Decani at 6:58 AM on April 26, 2006

Response by poster: We literally woke up at like 3am with winged termites in our mouths, hair, and covering every surface of the room. there's something you don't read everyday.

So, yes. I've been up all night thinking, and not sleeping. I swear I could hear them moving around under the bed, plotting against me. Waiting for the human to fall asleep, so they could feast on my delicious innards.

My decision? Forget this, I'm moving out. My lease is up next month, anyway, and this basements sucks. I'm cold all the time, and there are better places to be had for only slightly more money. This was that broken straw that killed the camel. Or whatever. But I really do appreciate all the advice. If I ever have another bug problem that a book and tissue can't handle, I'll certainly be prepared. Go team!

But seriously, thanks.
posted by Drunken_munky at 7:27 AM on April 26, 2006

I lived in a small coach house that had the same kind of incects you have. I ended up buying a small vacuum cleaner to suck 'em all up. After a couple of days, the spiders and cenapedes stopped coming. Then my home was innudated with moths.

I let the spiders and cenapedes come back...
posted by lester at 7:59 AM on April 26, 2006

Since you don't say where you live or how long you have been in the house... Our house is in southeastern Michigan and has a pretty solid basement. We only get a few bugs. However, the bug appearences do peak for about a 2 week window in the spring and the fall when the temperature changes. It sounds like there are enough critters in your house to do something, but you may also be in a peak bug time now.
posted by Tallguy at 9:45 AM on April 26, 2006

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