Buggy darkroom

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My darkroom is in my unfinished basement, and as such, it is sometimes visited by a variety of creepy crawly things -- spiders, camel-back crickets (aggressive creatures I've dubbed "hoppy bugs")and other insects. When the lights are out, I go to pondering what could be crawling up my leg. My question is: Has anyone tried those electronic devices that emit sound waves that purportedly drive away insects? My other options are to keep a can of bug spray in the darkroom, or just simply learn to co-exist with these guys. Thanks for comments.

-- Ben Calwell (bcalwell@aol.com), November 12, 2001


The high frequency sound producing devices don't work.

-- ernie gec (erniegec@stn.net), November 12, 2001.

You need more spiders.....they keep to themselves and do their respective jobs quietly. Here in the Midwest, where I work, one does as you say and simply takes a live and let-live attitude towards bugs.

-- Bruce Wehman (bruce.wehman@hs.utc.com), November 12, 2001.

In the U.K. we can buy bicycle clips. I admire youre devotion to your art. Pete.

-- Pete Watkins (pete_watkins@btinternet.com), November 12, 2001.

Ben... I cannot resist telling you this.

When I first saw the heading of your post "buggy darkroom", my first thoughts were of an Amish photographer wanting a portable lab!!!

The brain cells are almost completely gone... -Dave

-- Dave Richhart (pritprat@erinet.com), November 12, 2001.

Thank God - I wasn't the only one..... DJ

-- N Dhananjay (dhananjay-nayakankuppam@uiowa.edu), November 12, 2001.

That makes three of us! Since some of the local Amish boys have started riding small motorcycles, why not photography?

-- Garry Teeple (gteeple@coin.org), November 12, 2001.

I had the same impression -- images of a Mathew Brady wannabe looking to set up a mercury vapor laden deathtrap. Have to admit a perverse part of me admired the idea.

-- Michael Veit (pocoveit@yahoo.com), November 12, 2001.

Count five, only I pictured one of the guys doing wet plate.

-- David Munson (apollo@luxfragilis.com), November 13, 2001.

Also guilty but I thought it was a reference to the other discussion, ie. darkroom = horse and buggy era. Consider moving upstairs to the computer and let the bugs take over? In my case, anytime I go upstairs, the lady that lives there generally assumes I'm doing nothing and assigns a list of honeydo's, so I just hide out with the bugs. I suppose bugs would thrive on used fixer. J

-- Jim Galli (jimgalli@lnett.com), November 13, 2001.

As I've had to work in several dreadful dank cellars over the course of my career, I knew right away what Ben meant by "buggy" but the other interpretation reminded me about a farm wagon converted into a pinhole camera that someone was pulling behind a tractor across the German landscape last year.

I'm afraid I can't help with extermination since I've always just lived with the bugs, except in one old house that was being eaten by termites. Every morning I'd come down to work and find sawdust all over my work surfaces and equipment, from the boring and chomping that had gone on in the night in the joists and rafters over my head. I made a "ceiling" of thick black plastic stapled to the bottom of the beams so the sawdust just stayed in the "ceiling" instead of messing up my workroom.

-- Katharine Thayer (kthayer@pacifier.com), November 13, 2001.

Ben, I call those little guys "jumpy crickets"...my current home darkroom is a room I built into a half finished basement....even though I put in a makeshift ceiling, sheetrock, insulation etc...I still see those little guys every now & then...along with a few earwigs and spiders. The spiders I don't really mind that much, as long as they're friendly....your post reminds me of our old darkroom at work...it was a big room, and we had a water-bug/roach problem (old industrial building).....when I did a deep tank run, I'd often switch on the lights afterwards to see the bugs scurrying away all over the place...up the walls etc....a new building solved that problem.

Katherine, hey I did the same thing in another darkroom I had at one time...used heavy black plastic stapled to the floor joists above the room. This was in the basement of a pretty crappy house I lived in at the time, and I can remember watching the impression of mice feet running around under the plastic above....that would always creep me out more than the bugs...again, a new house solved that problem....

-- DK Thompson (kthompson@moh.dcr.state.nc.us), November 13, 2001.

Ben: I live in the South, and bugs are a way of life. Your post reminded me again of the time some 30 years ago a mouse ran across my foot and started up my sock while I was in the dark developing film. I ruined a batch of negatives and a pair of pants. I still think of that incident every time I turn out the lights. Just don't spray for bugs and then get into the darkroom before the air has a chance to clear.


-- Doug Paramore (Dougmary@alaweb.com), November 13, 2001.

Thought of something other than a darkroom on wheels. One thing that sometimes works for such situations is borax. Borax is toxic to insects- the powder gets on their bodies and when they preen, the borax enters their systems and thus dies the insect. Doesn't always work- if it's too damp the borax may cake, but I believe that there's a form of it sold expressly for insecticidal uses that has an anti- caking ingredient in it. The good thing about borax as compared to other pesticides is its low mamilian toxicity.

-- David Munson (apollo@luxfragilis.com), November 13, 2001.

I've harnessed 8 spiders to pull ... never mind. There are these 8" long triangles that sit against the wall and have pheremone bait in them. The spiders go in and stick. Non-toxic. 5 to a pack. Great in the dark room where the cats can't get to them. Dean

-- Dean Lastoria (dvlastor@sfu.ca), November 13, 2001.

Like Doug, I live in the South, and I had a problem with insects, too. Palmetto bugs are the real challenge. They're large, bold and well armored. They're fond of munching some kinds of cardboard and book bindings (I think it's the glue they're after). I've had good experinece with the flat black insect traps. They look like hockey pucks with little windows in them (the traps, not the bugs). Place them against the wall and in the corners where the varmints like to travel. The ones that survive are best sent to glory with a sidearm.

Good luck!

-- Kevin Bourque (skygzr@aol.com), November 14, 2001.

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