RV Pest Control: Keep Mice, Snakes & Bugs Out of Your RV

One of the biggest complaints amongst RV owners is how to deal with unwanted pests in their RV. Especially those who camp in the wild or put their campers into storage, preventing unwanted pests and exterminating them are just part of owning an RV! By using the right methods of RV pest control, those repulsive mice, snakes, insects and spiders will stay OUT of your motorhome or camper where they belong!

Did you ever boondock or camp or boondock in the wild only to come back with unwanted visitors? Or, you pull out your camper from storage only to find it infested with mice, snakes or bugs?

Oh, trust me, it happens all over. And if you don’t practice good pest control in your RV, you’re going to be chasing this problem forever. And, those unwanted pests can be extremely destructive and present serious health consequences to you and your family

But, if you know how to prevent pests from even entering your RV, you’re way ahead of the game! 

So, you may want to try these pest deterrents before those creepy crawlies even think about taking residence in your RV.

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RV Pest Control: How to Keep Mice, Snakes & Bugs OUT of Your RV

How RVs Get Unwanted Pests

Pest Infestations typically start with a single intrusion of a bug or insect, spider, mouse, packrat and even a snake.

Insects feed on anything they can find that tastes good; including human food. And, they tell their bug friends about the feast that’s in your RV.

But, if you ignore that single or few insects that make their way into your camper, you’ve opened the door and laid out the welcome mat for other nasty pests to march right in.

Unwanted spiders will move in because their food source is small insects. And, those spiders will start multiplying!

Then, when the outside temperatures plummet, mice bring their hobo bags and make themselves right at home in your camper; even when you least expect it.

Mice like to feast on food crumbs, small insects and your RV’s wires and cables (we’ll get to that later).

Now, unless there are humans and cats around to disturb their party, mice will find warm and cozy places to make babies…lots and lots of babies! Thus, now you have a mouse infestation.

And, you know that little hole that cute little mouse entered through into your RV? It’s just big enough for a snake to enter because a) he wants to get out of the cold too and b) what’s his favorite delicacy? Yep, you guess it. MICE!

In other words, snakes may take refuge in your camper if and when small rodents are present. And let’s just say, there’s no worse feeling you get when you find a snake skin inside your RV!

Your RV has become Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom episode of the making of a food chain. A food chain is a hierarchical series of organisms each dependent on the next as a source of food. 

So, while graphic as it seems, this should be reason enough to practice good RV pest control! And, we’re going to show you how to prevent unwanted pests in your RV but also how to eliminate existing ones.


PRO TIP: Stink Bugs taking up residence in your camper? Check out how to Get Rid of STINK BUGS in Your RV! *Stink Bug Prevention Tips*


Eliminate All Food Sources

RV Storage Pest Control - Ants

First and foremost, the easiest way to help prevent hungry rodents from entering your RV is by  eliminating their food source. This is one of the best practices to get into the habit of to keep you and your family safe but also, preserve your RV.

You need to remove all food and even residuals of food from your camper at all times. Even when winterizing your RV or preparing your RV for storage,

This means every crumb, morsel, spill, drip; even the tiniest remnant of food from your RV.

So, always be on the lookout for food residuals on your floors, in your cabinets, dining seat benches, countertops, stovetop and oven, etc.

Even that small dry kibble your dog dropped in the furnace vent is an invitation for unwanted pests in your RV.


Clean your RV thoroughly

Cleaning

The above is the exact reason why it’s incredibly important to clean your RV thoroughly. And keep it clean; even when you’re putting your RV into storage.

You need to eliminate the possibility of pests taking refuge in your camper or motorhome by removing everything that bugs, spiders and rodents like such as the food residuals mentioned above.

As we say on ships, field day your RV from stem to stern.  

So, start by getting out the vacuum cleaner to suck up everything in every corner, crevice, crack and cranny of your RV.

Then, make a hot soapy water solution (with disinfectant) and wipe down your entire RV; even insides of drawers and cabinets.

You’ll want everything so clean that you could practically eat off of every surface.


Keep Bedding Clean

RV Bedding

While you’re cleaning your RV, you’ll need to also keep all bedding, pillows, sheets, towels, face cloths, etc. clean and fresh.

Because mice and even packrats love anything made of fabric because it’s warm, cozy and the perfect breeding ground for…breeding.

By regularly changing your bed linens, you’re constantly keeping the area disturbed; free of unwanted pests.

Plus, it’s just good hygiene anyways. Don’t you love to sleep on clean sheets?

If you’re putting your RV into storage, you’ll need to take home all of your linens home. Don’t leave them in your RV. Once clean, you can store them all in space bags or a big storage tote until you pull your motorhome or camper out of the RV storage facility.


Keep an eye on furniture and mattress

Unless you detect unwanted pest infestations, I highly recommend cleaning in, underneath and around your furniture and mattresses at least once a month. This includes all couch cushions and throw pillows.

That piece of popcorn or corn chip is all it takes for you to get those mice moving in with their little hobo bags.

I know it may be a pain in the butt but you may want to strip your bedding to expose your RV mattress for inspection and a good cleaning at least every other month.

You certainly don’t want to wake in the middle of the night from spider bites or bed bugs.

Also, I highly recommend getting a six-sided mattress encasement. This will protect your mattress from insect infestations. Every few months, I’d remove it to launder and dry with high heat.

Rodent Control - Mattress Encasement

You may want to place a few desi packs between the bottom of the mattress and encasement as well as the top of the mattress and encasement to help prevent mattress mold.

Learn more: How to Prevent MOLD from Growing on Your RV Mattress


Mouse traps and insecticides

As you’ve just removed all the food and cleaned the inside of your RV like you’re preparing for a visit from your mother-in-law, it’s time for a little RV pest control intervention and prevention.

If you’ve detected pest intrusion (mouse droppings, insect or spider carcasses, snake skins, etc.) you’ll need to set out some pest control traps.


Insects & Spiders

For insects and spiders, you’ll need to apply pet-friendly, child-safe insect control product (insecticides). Per manufacturer, you need to reapply according to their recommendations.

Do know that you will need to reapply anytime you wash existing insecticides off of any surfaces.

If you’re RV is going to be sitting outside, dust your leveling jack pads and underneath your RV with Diatomaceous Earth.

Diatomaceous Earth is a natural, food-grade, small insecticide that kills fleas, ticks, ants, cockroaches, slugs, bed bugs and more within 48 hours of contact.

First, apply the powder to the inside corners of your RV’s basement and exterior storage compartments.

Then, apply liberal amounts on the ground under your RV, on and around your leveling jack pads and tires. You’ll want to reapply the powder after washing your RV or rain.

One word of caution when using Diatomaceous Earth.

While it’s perfect safe to use around humans and pets, you do not want to inhale or breathe it in. So, I highly recommend wearing a face mask during application; especially in confined spaces. Also, wear safety glasses to avoid eye irritation.

Now, for the inside of your RV, to deter those nasty unwanted insects and spiders, I highly recommend spraying all edges and corners with Ortho Home Defense insect killer.

It kills annoying home-invading insects such as ants, cockroaches, spiders, fleas, ticks, scorpions, beetles, silverfish, centipedes and millipedes. You could also use it in your basement compartments and underneath your RV as well.

But, if you’re looking for a natural insect deterrent formula, you can use a vinegar-based household cleaning solution. Or, another simpler way is to mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Though we’ve not used the natural method, we’ve heard it does work.

When you spray any places where spiders enter, the acetic acid in the vinegar is said to to burn and kill spiders upon contact.

Some RV owners also claim that you can place small open dishes of full-strength vinegar in dark corners to ward off spiders. But, that may not work if your RV is mobile.

Whether or not that’s just an old wive’s tale, well, you can be the judge.

For insect traps, you’ll want to set out TERRO Liquid Ant Killer insect trap bait stations where ants and spiders will drink or lick the poison and take it back to their nests.

The Terro worked perfectly when we had a a slight ant infestation in Florida. They are fairly inexpensive and easy to use.

Simply place the bait stations near any access points where ants or tiny insects could enter your RV. This includes under kitchen cabinets, closets, inside drawers, under your bed, bathroom cabinets, etc.

We also would place them in all of our RV’s exterior storage compartments; especially near access points where insects can enter.

The insect bait stations typically last all season. They’re also great to use as reliable bug prevention while your motorhome or camper is in storage.

One thing I want to touch a little on scorpions since they are actually an arachnid. While we’ve not had to deal with scorpions inside our RV fifth wheel or motorhome, we’ve heard stories of some RVers who  do deal with them in Texas and desert southwest region of the U.S. 

The best and most popular scorpion killer sprays on the market:

Now, to prevent mud dauber wasps from entering through your external furnace, water heater and propane vents, you’ll should install an RV insect prevention screen kit on your exterior vent screens.

RV Pest Control - RV Furnace and Water Heater Bug Screens

And lastly, an old RV Tech trick that I learned when buying our first RV is to place a new dog flea collar inside your RV refrigerator’s exterior access panel. Word on the street is the chemicals in flea collars are great wasp deterrents; keeping wasps and bees from entering to build a nest. 


RV Pest Control: Mice, Packrats, Moles and Other Rodents 

RV Storage Pest Control - Rat

Mice, packrats and other rodents are nasty little buggers. They will try to enter your RV when it starts getting cold outside. They will also seek your RV when it’s time to have their babies.

Not only do they carry and transmit diseases through bites, urine and feces, they also bring in fleas that may also transmit diseases.

Mice and packrats are also very destructive!

They have taken a liking to the wires and cables in RV (and automobiles) that are manufactured from soy-based materials that tastes pretty good to them.

First, they chew into and eat the wire coating. Then, once they get to the wires, they’ll gnaw through to sharpen their vicious little teeth on the wires. Not only is this frustrating because of electrical disconnections, but also poses a fire hazard!

But, how can you deter mice from entering your RV?  There’s a few suggestions from other RV owners we’ve asked.

Plug Rodent Intrusion Points

Well, that’s easy. Plug any and every little hole that creates an access point from outside to inside your RV. All it takes is a tiny hole they can squeeze into. Although nothing is 100% mouse proof, you can use either pest prevention expanding foam or rodent proof steel wool.

Irish Spring

Now, some RVers swear by the Irish Spring soap method. However, I’m here to share a photo below that one RVer posted on a Facebook group.

RV Pest Control - Mouse Ate Irish Spring

But does it mean it works? If you don’t see any evidence of any mice after, well, maybe it did work. Who knows?

Mothballs & Essential Oils

Other RVers claim that mothballs work as a mouse deterrent, as does peppermint essential oil, sage essential oil, and some weird voodoo stuff that we won’t get into.

Whether or not those alleged mouse deterrents work or not, I personally can’t verify because we’ve never used them. If you have, please share your results in the comments.

But importantly, the reason I haven’t used essential oils is because they are detrimental to a cat’s metabolic health. So, if you have cats as well, do not use essential oils for any RV pest control deterrents or unwanted pest mitigation.

Environmentally-Friendly Rodent Control

Unfortunately, you may be apt to reach for the D’Con at your local home improvement or big box store.

DO NOT use mouse poison or rat poison to kill rodents such as D-Con.

Products like D’Con mouse bait detrimentally impacts other wildlife. Should another animal or bird ingest a poisoned rodent, that poison will be passed onto the predator. This upsets the balance of the outdoor environment.

The best way to get rid of mice from your motorhome or camper is by using lethal but humane mouse traps or rat traps.

Tomcat Mouse Trap

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Rodent Control - Rat Trap

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These humane rodent traps are convenient and easy to use. All you do is just press to set. Once the little guy takes a nibble of the prescribed attractant, it will only suffer a quick 1 second blow.

You could also use glue mouse traps. They contain Eugenol; a pesticide-free, non-toxic enhanced stickiness that effectively captures mice, other rodents and pests.

They also trap a variety of insects, including spiders, roaches or even scorpions. But to be honest, I’m not a big proponent as the don’t kill the rodent immediately.

If you’re putting your RV in storage and you use any traps, I highly recommend visit your RV storage facility regularly to make certain your traps worked.

Always take a pair of disposable nitrile gloves and a sealable bag to discard any expired rodents and the gloves that handled them. Otherwise, you may be faced with mitigating the nastiest odor of dead rodents.

Professional Exterminator

You can always call a professional pest control specialist or exterminator. But, why spend big bucks for them to use the some of the same RV pest control methods you will be using? Also, be aware that some of the products that professional pest control companies use are not ideal in small spaces like RVs.


RV Pest Control: Snake Deterrents

RV Storage Pest Control - Snake

Snakes give me the willies; even the ones outside in their natural habitat. But having one come inside the RV, that’s just not going to fly! And I’d sure I’m not alone.

Snake intrusion is a whole ‘nother ball of wax to contend with when it comes to RV storage pest control.

First, snakes will only enter into your RV for one thing. They’re hungry and the detect small prey to dine on.

And, if you find snake skin, that’s a big indicator that there are mice in your RV. So, you need to get rid of the mice in your RV before you can essentially get rid of the snake.

If you get squirrely about the thought of even trying to find a snake let alone exterminate it, you might just want to leave that to the professional critter gitter (pest control specialist who deals with snakes).

That said, there is a snake repellent out on the market. But honestly, I can’t personally verify that it’s effective because we’ve never experienced having a snake enter our RV. Therefore, I can’t say whether or not it works.


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Final thoughts on RV pest control

RV Storage Pest Control - Bugs Cockroaches

I know this article is a bit creepy but RV pest control is an important part of camping and living in an RV. Because our motorhomes and campers are typically in the wild or areas where wildlife reigns, it’s one of the negatives RV owners must contend with.

Regardless of whether you’re preparing your camper into hibernation for storage or even camping in your own back yard, you need to know how to prevent, mitigate and eliminate unwanted pests in your RV.


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Always On Liberty - RV Pest Control Tips-3


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