There's nothing quite as creepy as encountering a surprise guest in your shower. That's exactly what can happen, though, if you have insects living in your drains and pipes. At any moment, you could look down and find earwigs in your shower or a cockroach climbing out of your kitchen sink. Thankfully, you can take steps to kill any insects lurking in your drain and prevent them from coming back.
Why Are They Here?
Insects are living creatures and as such require the three necessities that sustain all living things: shelter, food and water. Your drain pipes conveniently contain all three. Your pipes provide ample shelter from both predators and the elements, keeping any inhabitants, well, snug as a bug in a rug.
Your drains also provide a reliable source of water and food. The gunk that lines your pipes may look repulsive to you, but it's an all-you-can-eat buffet for certain bugs and critters. Debris in your pipes also provides excellent nesting material for eggs and larvae.
Common Bathtub Bugs
Some insects, like moths, try to stay dry, so you aren't likely to find them in your drains. Insects that like dampness and may visit your plumbing abound, however, and include cockroaches, earwigs, drain flies, silverfish and centipedes. Waterbugs, too, like dark damp drains, but don't let their name fool you. A waterbug is simply a specific variety of cockroach and can carry many of the same diseases as their cousins.
An Ounce of Prevention
Whenever possible, it's best to avoid having an insect visitor surprise you in the bathtub. To do so, start by taking a close look at your plumbing. If you see cracks or openings where the plumbing runs through walls or floors, seal them with caulk. Remember during your inspection that sweating pipes create even more moisture, so wrap them in insulation to avoid problems.
Keep your drains moving as freely as possible by treating them monthly with a drain cleaner. If your drain is still slow after cleaning, call a plumber for help. Since most drain dwellers are active at night, place a cover over your drains before bed to keep any insects in the drains from making it further into your house.
Always remember to keep your home clean, as well. Store food in tightly sealed containers and clean your kitchen and bathroom regularly. Never leave dirty dishes in the sink overnight. Insects are more likely to crawl out of your drains if they're enticed by something in your home.
A Pound of Cure
Some of the insects that dwell in your drains can carry disease and others, like earwigs, bite. If it's too late to prevent critters, it's important to eliminate any you already have. The first step to doing so is identifying what you're dealing with. Certain pesticides work better on one insect than another, so knowing what you're hunting will help you kill it faster.
If you're unsure what you have, place two pieces of sticky tape over the problem drain in the shape of an "X" and leave it in place overnight. Anything that crawls out of the drain will get stuck to the tape so you can identify it yourself or take it to an expert for help. Once you know what you have, you can determine whether insect baits, sprays, gels or powders will most quickly target and eliminate your unwanted houseguests.
When choosing and applying pesticides, remember that safety is as important as effectiveness. Make sure you choose a product that you can keep away from pets and small children. Also, note that it's illegal to use pesticides in any manner other than the one described in the product's instructions. If you're not sure what you're doing, don't hesitate to call a professional pest control specialist for help.