Winter time is an interesting time for those of us with RVs. For many, it means taking the RV to warmer climes and making it the winter home. Hardier folks can venture out, brave the elements and try some winter camping. Others put the RV into storage until warmer weather arrives in the spring. The important connection among all these scenarios is that the colder weather that winter brings forces us to alter how we use our RVs. Unfortunately, the same is true for the pests which can plague your RV. During the winter they are also looking for better spots to live and shelter up, and your RV can make the perfect place. Here are some ways to keep pests out of your RV as well as how to deal with them should they make it in.
The primary pests you will have to deal with in the winter are rodents. Ants can also be an issue in warmer climates. Other pests like mud daubers, wasps and bees tend to go dormant during the winter except in extreme southern regions. Even there, their activities are usually greatly reduced. In the case of wasps or mud daubers, check your RV in the fall for nests and remove them. That should take care of any issues until spring arrives.
Cleaning in your best bet against unwanted visitors in the winter.
Your best option in dealing with pests is prevention. These critters will get into your RV looking for food, water or shelter. If you can eliminate any of those from the equation you can go a long way to preventing them from getting in and staying. First, make sure you clean your RV top to bottom. Clean out the drawers, refrigerator, cabinets, under the couches, etc. If you have HVAC registers in the floor, take off the covers and clean out the ducting as best you can. These are all places food particles could have collected while you used your RV. If your RV is going in storage, also remove anything that can be used as nesting materials like toilet paper rolls, and things made of soft cloth. By removing any source of food or nesting materials you eliminate much of the incentive for these pests to move in.
Where you park or store your RV can be a big factor as well. If at all possible, avoid long term storage or parking near wooded areas, wood piles, overgrown fields or rundown buildings. These areas often harbor pests and the closer you are too them, the easier it is for the pests to jump over to your rig. Also, when you arrive at a site, take a quick look around and check for signs of ants or other critters before you setup. If you see anything that looks like a problem then see if you can change sites or if the park management can do something to rid the area of the issue.
Once setup, rope lights on the ground around your RV can make an effective barrier to rodents or other nocturnal critters. There are some differences in the colors of light different critters can see so covering the spectrum with white light is the best option. Leave them on all night for the best protection. If using lights is an issue, or you are storing your RV and don’t have power, then throwing some moth balls around under the RV can be effective as well.
Mothballs in bulk packaging (source: Amazon marketplace)
Borax insecticide (source: Amazon marketplace)
Finally, a mixture of Borax and sugar water can be sprayed on the ground around the outside of your RV. The sugar will attract ants who will pick up the borax, bring it back to the colony and kill it off. Borax is poisonous to pets and animals so make sure it is safe to use in your area. If not, food grade diatomaceous earth is a good alternative. Spread it around your RV dry (water kills its effectiveness) and it will prevent most bugs (ants, fleas, ticks, etc.) from getting into the protected area.
Ultrasonic pest repellents like the Exom Essentials or TBI Pro Ultrasonic Pest Repeller can be plugged into a wall outlet in your RV. These make an ultrasonic sound which drives pests away. The sound is inaudible to humans and most pets, but will probably bother rodent pets like gerbils or hamsters. Their effectiveness is open to debate, but they are well reviewed online, relatively cheap and probably worth the investment. Most models plug into your 120V outlets so they’ll need shore power, a generator or inverter to work while boondocking. There are 12V powered options like the New Ram Technology Auto Car Ultrasonic Animal/Mouse/Rat Pest Repeller which can operate off your battery or solar system while you are off grid.
It is also best to deal with pest issues proactively. Placing a trap or two inconspicuously under a kitchen or bathroom cabinet when you don’t think you have a problem can be very helpful. First, it will eliminate problems you didn’t know existed. Second, it will alert you as soon as a problem comes up. Finally, by getting it early you minimize the damage the pest may have caused and you prevent the pest from bringing in more friends.
When it comes to removing pests, the best remedy will depend on the pest. For mice, traps work best. It kills them quickly and allows you to remove it from your rig. Poisons will allow the rodent to escape back into its hiding place (like your walls or ceiling) where it will die later. Dead rodents in the walls of an RV can quickly fowl the air in the small space inside the living area, and nobody wants that. Ants and other insects are best handled with diatomaceous earth, traps or poisoned baits.
Alternatively, you could try building a no-kill bucket trap, then dump the critters far far away.
Here we have looked at some ways to prevent pests from getting into your RV and how you can deal with them if they do. With these ideas you should be able keep your RV pest-free this winter.
These RV pest control tips were provided by our awesome friends over at Outdoorsy, who connect RV owners with other campers, like them, who want to experience RVing without ownership.
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