Some bugs can’t get enough of the damp and the dark, and the conditions inside your wet, leaky basement can create the perfect habitat for several insect species. Cockroaches, termites, pillbugs and house centipedes all adore dank, gloomy spaces and are common visitors in the subterranean rooms of houses up and down North America.

If left untreated, these insects can form infestations that may threaten both the health of your family and the structural integrity of your home. Preventing invasions is the best way to keep your basement pleasantly bug-free, but how can you go about keeping bugs out of your wet, leaky basement?

What types of insects are most commonly found in wet, leaky basements?


Cockroaches are well-known for hanging out in sewers, so it should come as no surprise to learn these loathsome creatures love a damp, dark environment. As a result, they’re one of the most common insect pests found in basements – especially leaky ones!

This is because damp, leaky basements always have a steady water supply, without which cockroaches can’t survive. These filthy bugs often come indoors seeking moisture and a suitable nesting spot where they can breed. Once they do start producing young their numbers can explode, especially in rarely visited basements where they can scuttle around largely unnoticed. Roaches are dirty creatures with a high bacterial load and the potential to contaminate food supplies, so keeping them out of your home is a must.

Keeping your basement as dry as possible will make it look far less inviting to passing roaches.


Like roaches, termites are very fond of damp, gloomy environments and are frequently found in soggy basements throughout North America. For homeowners, termites are almost certainly the worst pests to encounter anywhere in your house. This is because these tiny bugs can cause devastating structural damage to your home if not dealt with immediately, and they often go unnoticed for long periods of time in basements. Meanwhile, these ‘silent destroyers’ chew their way through any wood they can find, gobbling up the cellulose (plant fibers) in your beams and floor joists.

Termites are such voracious eaters that they represent a major economic issue in the United States, accounting for billions of dollars in damages each year. To prevent a termite infestation in your basement, keep moisture to a minimum. As termites need a steady water supply to live, a dry environment can help to dissuade them from moving in and setting up home.


Pillbugs are usually outdoor creatures and are often commonly found in damp soil and under flowerpots, compost, stones, and mulch. These tiny arthropods require a constant supply of water, as they cannot survive without it for more than a few days. Therefore, they only invade damp, leaky basements, where they have enough moisture to live. Though harmless, pillbugs can invade basements in large numbers and form infestations that can be tricky to get rid of. Prevent pillbugs by removing water sources in your basement, sealing up possible entry holes and keeping the outside of your house free from debris and clutter.

House centipedes

Another type of arthropod, the many-legged house centipede is another pest that loves to hang out in wet, leaky basements. This invasive species is thought to have originated in the Mediterranean region but, today can be found in houses throughout North America. House centipedes are carnivorous creatures that emerge at night to hunt and feed on other bugs (such as silverfish, cockroaches, and spiders). By day, they hide away in dark, damp areas, making your leaky basement their ideal home. House centipedes are more likely to come indoors during the winter months, as outdoor temperatures drop too low in some regions for them to be able to overwinter outdoors.

Top tips for basement pest control

Besides keeping your basement as dry as possible, is there anything else you can do to keep insects out?

InsectCop, a pest control advice blog, suggests Implementing an integrated pest control plan as it is the most effective way to keep your basement (and the rest of your home) bug-free. And here are some tips on just how to do that!

Keep your basement clean and tidy

Boxes, old furniture, and general clutter all make ideal shelters for a variety of pests and can encourage insects into your basement. Keeping your basement clean and tidy gives bugs fewer places to hide, so they are less likely to set up nests down there.

Check for entry points and seal them up where possible

Insects can find their way inside through any crack, gap or hole in the exterior of your house. Spend an afternoon identifying and sealing all possible points of entry to your basement to reduce the number of bugs that get in.

Be vigilant about food waste

Food scraps are the ultimate invitation to roaches and rodents and can bring all kinds of pests into your home. Get into the habit of clearing away dirty plates, utensils, food wrappers and leftovers immediately to avoid tempting bugs into your home.

Use a chemical soil treatment around the outside of your basement

Termites find their way into your home via the soil outside and will find their way onto any wood that contacts the earth. Try treating the soil around your basement with a chemical treatment to create a barrier that bugs can’t cross.

Use insecticidal baits and dusts

To keep roaches and other insects out of your basement, scatter an insecticidal dust around entry points to your garage. These roach powders kill bugs on contact and can help to stop them from coming inside and setting up nests.

Knowledge is the best defense!

Certain types of bugs are very at home in dark, damp, gloomy environments. For anyone who owns a leaky basement, you may find yourself encountering all sorts of insects down there, including cockroaches, termites, pillbugs and house centipedes.

Whenever you find any type of insect in your basement, however, you need to act quickly to prevent a large (and problematic) infestation from forming. Keep your basement as dry as possible and put an integrated pest management plan into place to prevent invasions this winter!

About the Author:

Kristiana Kripena works as a Digital and Content Marketing Director for, which is a pest control advice blog that helps people live pest-free lives by providing tips and guides on everything from rat-proofing your home to getting rid of mosquitoes.