Camper van pest control is a normal part of the nomadic, van dwelling lifestyle. In my quest for creepy crawly critter control I’ve come across several natural methods that have worked well for me.
In the interest of keeping it simple, natural pest control in your van can be narrowed down to a few simple tasks:
- Don’t invite bugs in.
- Make bugs go away (repel them).
- Eliminate intruder insects quickly.
Now, let’s take a look at these natural methods in more detail…
Camper Van Pest Control
The critter control methods and recipes I’ll be sharing with you are natural. These are the tactics I use to keep unwanted insects from taking over my cozy little home on wheels.
If you prefer to use chemical pesticides that’s entirely up to you but, fair warning, that’s an aspect of pest control that I won’t be covering here.
I’m not particularly against chemical pesticides but I am severely allergic to them (can you say “anaphylactic shock”?).
Not being able to use chemical pesticides means I need to find other ways to keep creepy crawlies under control and it’s not as difficult as you may think.
Don’t Invite Bugs In
The first rule of camper van pest control is to not give bugs a reason to come in to your van.
How Bugs Get In
Bugs come in to our van home looking for food, water and/or shelter.
Creepy crawlies can sneak through any opening they can find. Take your driver and passenger doors, for example. Bugs like to hide just inside the crack of the door and, when you open the door, they have an opportunity to quickly scoot inside.
Some insects can climb your tires looking to gain access to openings to the interior of your van. Bugs may also gain access to your van by way of tree branches or bushes that are touching against your van.
Another option for the pesky bug to gain access to your van is if you’re parked under a tree. Spiders may repel down a web and other critters may jump or fall onto your van.
These pesky little critters can also come in on our clothing, on grocery bags, items we’ve set outside or through an open door.
How Not To Invite Bugs In
Here are some no-nonsense tips that can help keep bugs from coming in to your van.
Repair holes in any screens that you’re using (such as a Fantastic fan vent or permanent window screens).
Seal holes and cracks (when possible). Any open hole or crack is an opportunity for the bug to enter. It’s not possible to seal 100% of the openings in your van – it’s just the nature of van life. But, eliminating as many openings as possible will help keep unwanted bugs to a minimum.
Use screens. Most of us don’t have permanently screened windows but we can make our own screens using velcro, magnets or a little creativity. Wide open windows and doors are an invitation for unwanted critters to enter. Any type of screen or barrier will help keep them out.
Clean regularly. Bugs come in looking for food, water and/or shelter. Keep food particles cleaned up and don’t let water sit out for long (such as pet water bowls). Remove trash and debris so bugs don’t have a place to hide or a place to call their new home. Cleaning regularly definitely reduces bug traffic.
Camper Van Pest Control Cleaning Tip: I use Enviro-One for all my cleaning needs (including laundry). Enviro-One is safe for humans and pets but it’s a natural insect killer. Enviro-One destroys the insect’s exo-skeleton (unlike humans and pets an insect’s exo-skeleton is located on the outside of their body). Without an exo-skeleton the insect dies. Using Enviro-One for your daily cleaning needs is a simple way to control critters without having to think about it.
Don’t leave food sitting out. Keep food in airtight containers or sealed baggies. If you’re not having breakfast, lunch, supper or a snack – put the food away!
Don’t use cardboard. Cardboard can get damp. Spiders and other creepy crawlers love hanging out in damp cardboard. Use plastic totes or baggies for all of your storage needs.
Use mattress protectors. There are mattress protectors specifically designed to keep beg bugs out, reduce dust mites and prevent moisture from getting to your mattress. A mattress protector is an essential item for the van dweller and is well worth the investment for anyone living in a van.
Don’t park where tree branches or bushes are touching your van. Tree branches or bushes are an easy to cross bridge leading straight to your van. When possible, don’t let branches touch your van and you’ll eliminate one of they ways bugs can gain access to your home on wheels.
Repel Bugs – Make Your Van Home Repulsive To Bugs
Once you’ve removed the invitation for a creepy crawly to enter or take up residency in your van you can take additional measures to repel them.
Clean with Enviro-One. See my blue Camper Van Pest Control Tip shown above for more info.
Clean with vinegar. If you’re not up for Enviro-One you can clean with vinegar (or use it in addition to Enviro-One). Many insects don’t like vinegar (especially ants) and they will leave. I’ve used straight up white vinegar but some people like to use a mixture of vinegar and water.
Use citrus essential oils. Many insects (including spiders) hate citrus. You could use real lemons, oranges or limes but I prefer to use essential oils.
My Insect Repellent-Killer Recipe with Essential Oils: I don’t have an actual recipe but here’s the gist:
1) Fill a good sized spray bottle with distilled water. Add 20 or so drops of lemon or orange essential oil and about a teaspoon of Enviro-One. I use Enviro-One because that’s what I have on hand but dish soap or Castile soap also works (the soap helps the oil and water mix together).
2) Spray the mixture anywhere spiders might make a web, where critters might hide and around openings where insects might come indoors – including around the doorways.
3) Depending on where you are (how “buggy” it is) you may need to spray once a week. If you’re not in a very buggy place (or it’s too cold for critters) you won’t need to do it as often.
Use repellent around the tires. Spraying or sprinkling a repellent around the tires can help deter bugs from crawling up the tires and finding an opening.
Use an essential oil diffuser. Insects hate strong smells like eucalyptus and peppermint. I love using my battery operated, no mist diffuser with a few drops of peppermint essential oil. It makes my van smell nice AND helps repel creepy crawlies!
Since moisture is an issue for van dwellers you may want to consider a battery operated essential oil diffuser that doesn’t give off a mist. The electric diffusers usually give off a mist and they need to be used with caution. First of all, you need electricity to run it. Secondly, if you’re in a humid area you don’t want to add more moisture inside your van.
NOTE: If you have a pet be sure to research the effect of essential oils on your breed of pet. Certain essential oils cannot be used when pets are around.
Eliminate Bugs In Your Van
On a rare occasion, a bug manages to find it’s way in to my van (I have my side door open a lot). Thankfully, by not inviting bugs in and taking measures to repel them, I’ve never had an infestation.
Any random, wayward pest that manages to find it’s way inside your van needs to be dealt with as soon as possible to avoid pro-creation and potential infestation.
Getting Rid Of Random Pests
Let’s say you wake up and find Mr Spider laying next to you on the pillow.
The first thing is… DON’T SCREAM!
You don’t want to scare Mr Spider because he will certainly run and hide. If Mr Spider goes into hiding you’re left wondering if, when or where he’ll make his next appearance.
Instead of screaming, calmly find your smooshing weapon of choice and take Mr Spider out!
Although, if you’re a Critter Lover, feel free to pick Mr Spider up and give him a gentle toss out the door.
Once An Intruder Has Been Spotted Take An Extra Precaution
When a random creepy crawly shows up in your van you’ll certainly take measures to remove the pesky intruder quickly.
As an added precaution you may want to use a natural Insect Repellent-Killer (like the recipe shown above) to help ward off further intruder’s (or simply to ease your mind).
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