Dear PoPville – How to rid flies/mosquitos from Basement Entrances?

“Dear PoPville,

Does anyone have a good solution for discouraging flies & mosquitoes from hanging around in basement entrances? I think they like the cool & dark down there, and so have been especially bad this summer. I power-wash the walls fairly often, keep the drain clear and practice good mosquito-prevention in the yard (no standing water etc.) I hang strips of fly-paper, but there are still lots of them.

I’ve checked out some zappers online but they seem like overkill. Considered spreading some lime or desiccant, but it’s a small area and an active entrance to the basement apartment. Any ideas?”

We spoke about some general mosquito problems here and here but does anyone have specific advise for basement entrances?

41 Comment

  • “I think they like the cool & dark down there,”
    I would suggest you make it hot and bright.

  • We had a major problem with this in the beginning of the summer. We did two things: stopped leaving the light on outside the door overnight and hung sticky strips up for a couple of weeks. Seems to have gotten rid of them for the time being.

  • it’s pretty gross, but it works fairly well.. try Flies Be Gone fly trap… I have no suggestions as per the mosquitos, although for temporary fixes, Off powerpad lamp keeps a space clear of mosquitos for up to 15 feet

    good luck…

  • We have the same problem. We hang fly bags – you can buy them at any hardware store. I think its basically sugar water. The flies get caught in the bag. They have to be changed frequently because they get pretty gross pretty quickly but they are the most effective thing we’ve found thus far. We called several pest companies and none were any real help.

  • The very term “fly bags” actually makes me want to puke, but thanks!

  • Try growing basil. You are right they like the cool humid air, you won’t notice them hanging around if your door way is in the sun all day. Grow basil in two pots one on each side of the door, should not be a problem after that and you get the added benefit of fresh basil and a sweet scent every time you brush by it. They also breed in the drain of the basement floor sometimes, keep it flushed with water to ensure any larvae are washed away.

    • I’m not sure I can do much to make the sun shine in there!

    • I’ve tried a similar natural remedy of marigolds, which looked nice, smelled funky, and repelled exactly zero mosquitos

      We contracted Mosquito Squad and have scarcely seen a mosquito since

    • The basil will repel the flies, but encourage the flower pot stealing hobos.

  • bfinpetworth

    Pouring a little bleach down the drains can help kill any larvae hatching down there. Keep the area clearof any organic matter that will decompose with any moisture introduced. And keep it as dry as possible.

    • Ah bleach is a good idea, if it is too strong an odor you can dilute it with water or use less. I use 1 cap full of bleach in my fountain to keep away algae and mosquitoes once every two weeks, works like a charm.

      • If the drain runs directly into the Potomac, aren’t there environmental concerns with pouring bleach down the drain?

        • No, unless you’re using a whole ton, like the water treatment plant does. Chlorine evaporates from water pretty rapidly.

          • And by a whole ton, you mean like 3 or 4 tons. Bleach is chlorine. The alarmism among hyper aware, yet uninformed, environmentalists is humorous.

          • JT just asked a question. Nothing alarmist about it.
            I find your reaction to it humorous. You’re all bristled up right now, aren’t you?

          • If you’re worried, just don’t pour it in right after a big rain. Pollutants dumped down drains end up in waterways when combined sewers overflow, as they are designed to do after big rains to keep the treatment plant from being inundated. Otherwise, the treatment plant can handle the small amounts of bleach we use.

          • What if everyone poured sort of a ton of bleach down their drains?

    • Had this problem for years and now all I have to do is spray the walls with a little clorox and rinse once a year! Cleans and keeps those annoying guys away!

  • Ugh- I was tempted to send this in to PoP earlier in the summer. It has been especially bad this year. We are in the process of switching out our security bars for a security storm door. It’s a single pane of glass that can take a serious beating. Hopefully that will help keep the flies & mosquitoes out while we are using the door (we have about a foot between the 2 doors).

    We’ve done the fly traps. They work somewhat, but don’t eliminate the problem, and good lord the stench is unbearable.

    Flypaper looks kind of tacky and is not really effective. It’s great to see 5 flies stuck to the paper while trying to dodge the other 50 still around the door.

  • bfinpetworth

    We tried the fly bags. They work amazingly well but the sight of all those HUNDREDS and then THOUSANDS of flies squirming around in that bag and struggling for life was just too much for me to take. I realized that it is possible to feel compassion for a fly…

  • If you don’t mind using chemicals, buy yard guard or a similar outdoor bug repellant with permethrin and spray the walls with it every week or two. Since the area doesn’t get rained on it will last a while.

    The basil trick is a good idea but only works if the area gets enough light. Basil is a full sun plant and is rarely happy with less than 6 hours of sun a day.

    • I second this. I had a crazy fly problem this summer and I’ve combatted it by spraying a bug spray (I don’t remember the brand; it’s available at target in a blue bottle with a locking trigger) along the edges of the nook walls every few weeks. The flies are down and so are the mosquitoes. Win-win as far as I’m concerned.

  • Didn’t DC put up some mosquito repellant that used high-pitch sounds at the Chinatown metro last year?

  • Fill a Ziploc sandwich bag with water and hang it in the entrance way. Not sure why exactly it repels the flies, but it does.

  • Get yourself a human centipede! They’ll eat anything, and they prefer to live in basements.

  • This sounds weird, but try Listerine! Pour it in your drain. Seems to repel mosquitoes pretty effectively.

  • This ( seems to deter mosquitoes and flies from my basement entrance. It’s pricey, but worth it. I don’t recommend it for dog owners (it exacerbated my childhood dog’s epilepsy), but it’s organic, and claims to be pet-safe.

  • Repost: I hate to admit it but I use Cutter Bug Free Back Yard spray. You hook it to the hose and soak the yard [area]. Its ‘safe’ for dogs but toxic to cats and fish. This stuff works for up to 4-6 weeks (the bottle says 8). I try not to use stuff this toxic but without this treatment my backyard is UNUSABLE in the summer. It contains Permethrin. Yard Guard works well but it is only good for a few hours.

    What has never worked for me are torches or citronella.

  • I second the sweeping recommendation, then I drop the mosquito pellets down the drain about every 2-3 weeks. Seems to work for both flies and mosquitoes. Then I also spray RAID flying insect killer about once every 2 weeks if I know I’ll be gone for a day or two.

  • I have had great success using tea sachets filled with ground cloves and ground cinnamon. Flies hate the combination. I have placed them high up and low down.

    The Mosquitos are not moved by the combination but I’m working on them and will get back to you on them.

  • Kind of similar. We have a basement toilet we never use. Every so often (once a month) I flush it to refill the bowl after most of the water evaporates (don’t want it to dry out completely or else the sewer gasses will fill the basement, ewww). Yesterday when I went to flush, the bowl was filled with swimming mosquito larvae, triple ewwwww. Flush, bye-bye.

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