5 Tips For Keeping the Critters Out

Unless you’re an anteater, chances are you don’t enjoy camping with ants. They get into your crackers and cereal. They form ant lines across your countertops. And as you’re trying to fall asleep, you keep thinking one is crawling up your leg.

Mice, spiders, and even squirrels can also cause all kinds of problems with winterized RVs left unattended, or just parked overnight in the wrong camping spot. The question is, what can we do about it?

Jungle Gardens is adjacent to the Tabasco factory on Avery Island, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jungle Gardens is adjacent to the Tabasco factory on Avery Island, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

We’ve heard horror stories of spiders in propane lines, flea infestations, ant invasions, and uninvited mice move-ins, but only once in the twenty years of our snowbird lifestyle has our RV been breached.

In this article, we offer five tips for keeping the critters out.

Tip 1: Put Screens on Exterior Vents

Over the years we’ve noticed numerous RVers with screens on the exterior of their rig. We did this ourselves when our motorhome was equipped with a propane furnace.

This highly effective preventative measure keeps insects and critters out of the appliances where they would eat away at electrical cords and/or build nests. The small screens have much smaller holes than the screens that sometimes come with those appliances.

Bees and spiders love the smell of the additive in propane and will build nests in the exhaust vents. After de-winterizing, it’s not unusual for thick black smoke to come from a propane heater vent or to discover that your water heater won’t light. Often the culprit is the nest of a spider or bee.

King Ranch, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

King Ranch, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tip 2: Treat Your RV Jacks

Put Borax (sodium borate), Ajax, or ant spray on the feet of the RV jacks when camping. This keeps the ants from crawling up the jack legs and into the RV. You may also want to spray the ground around the tires with ant spray. Talcum powder also helps with ants.

There are other solutions that are more environmentally friendly. For example, diluted peppermint oil, white vinegar, cinnamon, and black pepper are all highly regarded non-toxic ant deterrents.

Tip 3: Lift Your Power Cord and Water Hose

Loop the electrical cord and water hose around the utility box to keep the hose and cord from touching the ground. This helps to prevent ants from climbing from the ground up the cord or hose into the basement of the RV. It’s a simple solution that works well.

Tip 4: Dryer Sheets and Moth Balls

We place dryer sheets in each exterior and interior compartment of our motorhome. Dryer sheets are effective for repelling insects and help to keep mice and other critters out. We use dryer sheets when we travel and when the RV is stored for an extended period of time. Over time, the dryer sheets lose their effectiveness and require changing.

Mothballs are highly effective if one can tolerate the odor. Both mothballs and dryer sheets contain toxic chemicals and should be avoided in compartments with food or areas that are accessible by children and/or pets.

Orlando Thousand Trails Preserve and Encore RV Park, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Orlando Thousand Trails Preserve and Encore RV Park, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tip 5: Ziplock Bags and Sealed Containers for Food

If you find that the above measures do not deter unwelcomed guests, as a last resort put all dry foods in ziplock bags and air tight containers. This practice is guaranteed to keep ants out of your food. Everything from rice to cookies to cereal can be sealed, if deemed necessary. As a bonus, the Ziplock bags keep the food neatly stowed and fresh for as long as possible.

If you do these preventative things when you first get your RV—put screens on the vents, dryer sheets or mothball compartments, and Ziplock foods—then you’re not inviting the critters in from day one.

Now, what do we do about those pesky mosquitoes?

Highland Hammock State Park, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Highland Hammock State Park, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

Some primal termite knocked on wood;
and tasted it, and found it good.
That is why your Cousin May
fell through the parlor floor today.
—Ogden Nash

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