How to keep the critters, creepy crawlers, and other uninvited creatures from invading your truck camper. Are those spiders climbing into your propane lines?
While staying at a Florida campground this past winter, our camper was invaded by pesky house ants. Camping a few sites away, truck camping friends had already warned us about the tiny attackers, and we sprayed our tires and jack legs accordingly. Undeterred, the ant army ascended our shore power cord, and advanced into our camper basement and main living area.
Detecting the siege, we immediately put every food-related item into sealed plastic bags and wiped down the countertops and cabinet interiors. Then we sprayed our shore power cord, and suspended it from a rear jack to the power source. After a few days of these anti-ant defense maneuvers, victory was ours.
We had heard horror stories of spiders in propane lines, flea infestations, ant invasions, and uninvited mice move-ins, but never once in over a decade of truck camping had our camper been breached. Obviously our lucky streak had run out.
A few days later, we observed some clever critter prevention modifications on Joe and Nina MacDonald’s Arctic Fox 990 and Jessie Black’s Lance 1055. Joe, Nina, and Jessie shared with us what they do to prevent spiders, bees, ants, mice, lizards, and basically anything else from crawling or buzzing into their camper. Having just rid ourselves of ants, we took detailed notes.
What follows are their suggestions on how to go truck camping critter free.
Tip 1: Put Screens on Exterior Vents
Over the years we have seen many readers with screens on the exterior of their campers. We have not done this ourselves, but asked Joe and Nina if it really helps and what vents they actually cover.
Above: A protective screen on a water heater vent
Joe explained that he has put screens over his refrigerator vent, furnace vent, and water heater vent to keep insects and critters out of those appliances.
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 that he used have much smaller holes than the screens that sometimes come with those appliances.
Above: Look closely to see the screens on the refrigerator vents
As Bill Ward, owner of Hallmark RV, shared in his “Propane Systems and Maintenance” article, bees and spiders like to build nests in propane areas. The 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 usual 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.
Tip 2: Treat Your Camper Jacks
Joe said that he will put Borax (sodium borate), Ajax, or ant spray on the feet of his camper’s jacks when camping. This keeps the ants from crawling up the jack legs and into the camper. If your camper is on your truck, you may also want to spray your 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