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Safe Bug and Mice Control in RV


After another long season of battling rodents in my parked RV and ants trying to get into the house, I decided it would be good to share as well as see what other people are using. This advice can be taken both for RVs and your home. The only difference is that one has tires and cables that are (probably) touching the ground.

Even though most of us are consuming large amounts of them, as much as twelve layers of them on our food every day, I don't believe that pesticides are good for us. I generally think that anything that kills something else can't be good for us either. If there is an alternative method out there that is not a pesticide, I'll try it. Some methods work better than others.

The first rule is cleanliness. Try to keep clutter and debris under control. Ants don't usually bother going into a place unless they can find food crumbs or scraps or if you're in the desert, a easy water source. Tree branches are a preferred method of travel so if you keep them away from your house or rv, both from above and from touching the side of it, it will help. When I was battling the severe ant problem at the San Diego KOA, I finally had it so they weren't entering from any place on the ground. They no longer went over my tires or up my electric and water hoses. But they were still getting in. Then I realized that they were forming a line up a nearby tree and then plunging off it onto my roof. At my house, mice were using the trees to run from one section of the house to another. So I stopped all that by trimming my trees. If possible, move the RV slightly so it isn't under the tree any longer.

Caulk and seal openings. Once you find where the pests are getting in, make sure you close up those gaps. It's good to seal any openings that you can as it helps with controlling your energy costs as well. In my RV, I found some large gaps in the outside electrical compartment that allowed rodents to get up into and scurry around the rest of the hidden parts of my RV. Behind cabinets and through all the pipe spaces, they could get into just about everything. I used caulk and insulating foam to close those gaps. The rodents haven't gotten in since.

I like to keep my cables off the ground when possible. Another plus with solar (here he goes again!) is that I don't even hookup very often. If you can run from a hook up point to the RV connections without touching the ground it just reduces the easy roads that pests have into your RV. Or at least pay close attention to where your hoses and cords lay on the ground. No since in putting out the red carpet and laying one right over an any mound if you don't have to.

Sometimes your compartment doors don't close completely and leave an entrance gap. This may be due to age or a part of the design. If it's a compartment where a mouse could get in or cause damage to the contents of that compartment, you may want to eliminate that gap. I have lined a compartment door with reflectix to make the door close up tight. This is insulating and light weight. You could cut to fit a dense foam pad. These are sold for gardening on your knees, garage floors and play areas.

Cover vents with hardware cloth or gutter screen material. This is not regular screen. You don't want a weak material or one that restricts air flow in any way. This a metal material with larger square openings that are maybe a quarter inch to half inch in size. It keeps out mice, birds, snakes, etc. I cut the pieces to fit under all vent caps and covers and then they are held in place by the covers themselves.

Ant invasion

Find out where they are coming in if you can. If you find the spot you can use non-pesticide products like food grade diatomaceous earth (DE), moist coffee grounds, baking soda, talcum powder, cayenne, salt, garlic powder, Tide laundry soap or Comet cleaner. Use these products in the corners, cracks and places where you see the ant trail coming in. These are not really for outside use since they just disappear in the rain and wind.

On the outside, you can squeeze lemon juice into the opening and leave the peel. You can then block the entrance point with toothpaste, duct tape or a petroleum jelly.

If there is a nice long line of ants already there waiting to get in, you can first remember your trip to Disney World and then snap out of it and spray them with a 40/40/20 mix (in this order) of water, alcohol and dish soap. Other households items work too like WD40, Fantastic and other cleaners. The first one is a bit better since you don't have as many chemicals as in the later ones. Then spray around the foundation or your tires and cables that touch the ground with a mix of 2 oz. table salt and 1 oz. white pepper in one pint of water.

If you find the mound either in your yard or near your parking spot, you can flood it with club soda, diluted orange juice, Lemon joy and peppermint, or food grade diatomacious earth (DE) or white vinegar. Dilute the orange juice as one part juice and two parts water with a dash of soap. Instant grits can be put on the mound as well. Ants will eat it and not be able to digest it. It works but seems kind like a long nasty way to die if you think about it.

If it is your home or stationary RV, you can set up baits. You want the ants to live and take it back to their nest to kill the queen. It doesn't do any good to kill them at the bait location. A bait could be:

  • mix of apple sauce, Crisco, sugar water, fishy canned cat food, peanut butter, honey or jelly along with about 2 percent boric acid or borax. You could also use 5 percent diatomacious earth (DE) or a packet of Equal (aspartame).
  • half baking soad and half powdered sugar
  • half instant grits and half a packet of Equal
  • one third baking soda, one third powdered sugar, one third powder Vitamin C.
  • Birds

    Birds may try to build nests in air conditioners or under protective covers. I haven't had any problems myself with birds but they do like to hang out on the underneath side of the RV and behind the tire covers.


    Poisons aren't the best method for a few reasons. One is that they could be found by children, pets, animals tor birds that you don't really want to kill. A second reason is that the mice may die in a place that you can't easily get to. Then you have the dead smell for a while or the possibility that it has hantavirus and it could develop into a health hazard. The virus comes out in the urine and waste of a dead mouse.

    You could get a mouse hunting cat. Or maybe not shoo away the neighbor cat as much. Let them wander around and get the mice for you.

    The best way is the old fashioned snap trap. You can buy them with a plastic scented bait already built into the tab. I've used these and caught many mice with them. You could also use an old trap with many other things like Slim Jim, a Tootsie roll or whatever works for you. Make sure to put the trap close to a wall.

    I don't really have anything specific that I do to protect the engine compartment other than checking it often myself. The longer anything sits quietly and by itself, the more likely it will be have unwanted inhabitants. I have used fabric softener sheets in the past tucked here and there but those sheets are not exactly eco-friendly. The same goes with mothballs. Keeping them under control around the area will usually keep them from causing damage or at least reduce the chance of damage to your engine wires.

    When you dispose of the mouse, spray it with something like Lysol, put it in a plastic bag and put it in a closed trashcan so other animals can't get to it.

    What methods have you used effectively to keep pests under control? How do you protect the engine compartment? Have you had wires eaten in your RV?


    Adam | Apr 3, 2009 | Category: RV Tips

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