It’s a fact of life that when you go camping, you’re going to run into some pests. Some unlucky RV owners experience frustration with pests when their unit comes out of storage. Taking care of pests and knowing how to prevent them ensures a better experience for campers and a longer life for your RV.
When the RV Comes Out of Storage
You haven’t seen your RV for months and notice upon pulling it out of storage the presence of droppings on the dashboard or under the dining table, maybe even a cut wire or two in the engine compartment. Mice infestation is one of the more common problems for stored RVs, and they can cause a lot of damage. These signs can mean some expensive service and part replacements. It could also mean you still have unwelcome guests.
How do you get rodents out of your RV? If you aren’t going anywhere too quickly, use the time to catch the little guys with traps or rat poison. Make sure any traps or rat poison are removed from the RV before your pets or any children make use of it. There are even electronic pest repellers on the market, which emit a high frequency sound that mice don’t like. There are other repellants that might be worth trying, but if you can’t get rid of the mice yourself, you may need to consider calling an exterminator.
Moth balls, peppermint oil, and dryer sheets placed in or near corners, drawers, and other small openings can help deter mice the next time the RV needs to go into storage, though campers have had various levels of success. Traps and rat poison are not the best preventative options for inside stored RVs. If successful, you’ll need to deal with the scent of a dead mouse once your RV is back in the open.
When the RV Reaches its Destination
We encounter more than just mice once we reach our campsite. Bugs become the bigger problem, regardless of whether you’re staying somewhere for the season or jumping to different spots for short visits. You’ll encounter flies, mosquitoes, ladybugs, spiders, and ants. Here are some ways to manage pests and keep them out of your camper.
- Put food away
- Keep garbage bags sealed and don’t let full ones hang around too long
- Use a screen across the door if you want airflow and keep the door closed all other times
- Keep window screens down
- Seal access holes on the underside of your RV
- Keep cabinets and counters clean by using a kitchen cleanser
- Keep power cords from touching the ground
- Burn citronella candles or sticks
- Sprinkle the ground around your RV, especially if not on a concrete slab, with talcum powder, borax, diatomaceous earth, or powdered sink cleanser
Campers: Protect Yourselves
The outdoors is a wonderful place, you wouldn’t go camping or own a recreation vehicle if you didn’t think so. However, pests can cause serious, even life-threatening, illnesses in people, so it’s important to be aware of what you can do in terms of prevention.
Mice: The deer mouse – or field mouse – is the rodent you would likely encounter in and around your camper. The house mouse might be the culprit in a stored RV. With their big ears and small eyes, they may look cute, but mice can carry diseases including salmonellosis and Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) through urine and feces. As discussed in the previous section, it’s important to remove mice from your RV and to clean all surfaces on a regular basis.
Mosquitos: Though most people don’t develop symptoms, West Nile Virus continues to be a concern. 2015 was one of the highest years for mosquitoes, likely due to the wet spring. Always wear repellents, especially at dusk and dawn, and avoid or drain standing water if you can. Wear loose fitting clothes, too, as mosquitos have no problem penetrating through thin fabric.
Ticks: Just like the mosquitos, Michigan has been in the midst of a tick boom, with the presence of blacklegged – or deer – ticks spreading beyond its perceived normal range. Ticks can carry Lyme disease so it’s important to wear long pants tucked into your socks, to do a tick check after being in known tick areas, and to wear EPA-approved insect repellents to avoid tick bites.
Spiders: There are only two poisonous spiders in Michigan, but most campers don’t appreciate sharing space with any type of spider. You can remove the spider from an area and place it back outside… or there’s always the alternative.
Bats: It’s not uncommon to see bats flying overhead on a summer evening in the midst of an insect spike. Sometimes, though, these flying rodents make their way inside — or they get a little too close to those sitting at the campfire. Most bats are healthy, but some can carry rabies and there is a risk of being infected. If a bat enters your RV, try to capture it and then release it back outside. If bitten, try to capture the bat and get it tested for rabies.
Other Creatures: Coyotes, raccoons, skunks, bears, and opossums are other animals you may encounter – usually outside your RV but sometimes inside. It’s best to avoid them and give them space if you do come across one. Fortunately, most of the time they avoid us. More nocturnal creatures, such as raccoons, get bolder at night, so make sure anything of interest – especially garbage – is kept far from your camper or locked up tight in your vehicle or truck.
With all of that being said, pests don’t need to keep you from enjoying your RV or your trips. If you are confronted by pests during your travels, have local exterminators or animal control phone numbers handy; they are your ultimate pest control resource. You’ll be sure to keep the critters at bay with these useful tips. Be aware, be proactive, and you’ll have a wonderful time.