One of the biggest complaints amongst RV owners is how to deal with mice, spiders and bugs 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, 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 mice and bugs 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, Spiders and Bugs OUT of Your RV
How RVs Get Pests to Begin With
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 are small insects. Once they come and see how comfortable your RV is and the dining options of the many bugs also harboring, 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.
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Eliminate All Food Sources in your RV
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 cleaning out every crumb, morsel, spill, drip; even the tiniest remnant of food from your RV. Even that small dry kibble your dog dropped in the furnace vent is an invitation for unwanted pests in 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.
Always Keep Your RV Clean
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.
Change Your RV’s Bedding Often
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.
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.
Inspect Your 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.
Even a the tiniest 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 should 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.
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.
✰ READ MORE ✰ How to Prevent MOLD from Growing on Your RV Mattress
Can You Use Mouse traps and insecticides in Your RV?
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.
How to Keep Bugs and Spiders OUT of Your RV
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, and even bed bugs within 48 hours of contact.
However, while it’s safe to use around humans and pets, you do not want to breathe it in during application. I highly recommend wearing a face mask and safety glasses to avoid eye irritation.
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.
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 killers 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 insect screen kit on your RV exterior vent 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.
Check out RV LOVE’s book! We’re even mentioned in it!
How to Keep Mice OUT of your RV
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 expanding foam or rodent proof steel wool.
On of the most asked questions about pest control is “Does Irish Spring deter mice from making a home of your RV?”
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.
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 and dogs, 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 larger rat traps.
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 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.
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.
How to Prevent Snakes from Coming into Your RV
As like most people, snakes give me the willies. Even snakes outside in their natural habitat who are minding their own business.
But what if you find evidence such as a a snake skin inside the RV? Yeah, 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 pest control.
First, snakes will only enter into your RV really for just one thing. They’re hungry! And they follow the scent of small rodents right into your nice and cozy camper or motorhome.
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 how to keep mice and bugs OUT of your RV
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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