Ants in your motorhome or Campervan - Read On!

We found ants in our motorhome when we were in Croatia. First it was just one, then another, then we saw several. And we (Damo) squashed them with his finger. 

Then we went to bed. 

Then in the morning, we found more. Like 20 – then we saw them around the windscreen in the cab. We tried to trace where they were coming from by following them – but they hadn’t yet formed a marching line of critters taking stuff home to their nest.

After brushing them off Freddy with the dustpan, it was breakfast time. Pancakes maybe? Yum.

I opened the cupboard to get the maple syrup out and shrieked. Damo thought a massive snake or something was clearly on the attack. We found more ants.

So we cleared all the cupboards out – bleaching everywhere and whacking the little critters (I am not particularly good with anything that crawls – its amazing that I managed to sleep in a hammock in the Amazon for my 50th birthday!!).

So begins the search on how to best get rid of ants in your motorhome. What are the best treatments. What are natural ways of prevention rather than cure. 

These treatments are for when you are actually living in your motorhome (whether it be for 2 weeks or 2 years!)

How do ants all know where to go?

Ants like sugar and carbohydrates and they search for food using the 400 odour receptors it has to detect different scents. 

When an ant travels, they lay down scents – and when they find food – they return following the same trail – and lay down more scent. The trail is now stronger smelling. 

Other ants that are also on the hunt for food come across this trail and often drop their own trail to pick up this new one – thereby laying down more scent and so on – so this is why you see little trails of ants – they are all picking up the same scent and strengthening it for their fellow ant friends to follow. 

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how to get rid of the ants in your motorhome

Once you have them, the only way to get rid of them, unfortunately is to kill them.

There are a number of ways that you can do this:

  • Pour boiling water on them (not ideal in a motorhome). 
  • Use ant spray that you can buy from a supermarket
  • Get some Nippon ant gel and use that to kill them all (available at hardware stores or supermarkets in the UK)
  • Smother them in cornflour powder,  add a little water to the top. The result is a pile of ants encased in cornflour which you can clean up
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deterrents are better than cures

Be sure to be clean in your motorhome. Ants coming into your motorhome are looking for food. So don’t give them that option. Don’t tempt them into your motorhome in the first place. 

So this means all counter tops are clear and clean and that the floor is swept regularly. You can use a diluted peppermint oil/clove oil/tea tree oil spray as a final wipe clean of surfaces to keep things even more ant resistant. 

Maybe create a mix of vinegar and water as a cleaner – ants don’t like the smell of vinegar either. Vinegar and water mix has long been known as an environmentally friendly all round cleaner – you can use it to wipe surfaces, clean mirrors and windows and sanitise heavy use areas (handles etc).

If you like cooking a lot – store things in plastic containers. Don’t have unwrapped foods in your motorhome – things like cherries and some fruits are just heavenly sticky and sweet. 

Ants love things like flour too, so if you are into breadmaking – make sure you look after that too! Damo is always making bread – he finds it therapeutic, so store flour bags in containers too. 

Diatomaceous Earth (Silica powder)

The number one preventative solution is Diatomaceous Earth (silicone dioxide). It sounds pretty drastic but it is safe to have around humans and pets.  

Diatomaceous Earth is made almost entirely of silica. Once the ants walk through it, it destroys the wax coating on their little bodies so that they can no longer retain any water and they die. 

You can buy Diatomaceous Earth at pet shops – and of course Amazon – so it is super handy to keep in the garage of the van. 

Peppermint, Lemongrass or clove oil on cotton wool.

Buy peppermint, clove or lemongrass oil and put it undiluted onto cotton wool balls or tissue and place them at entry points where you think ants are coming from.  They are strong smelling oils that interfere with the ants receptors. The cotton wool balls should be refreshed weekly. 

You can also wipe the oils on the surfaces of where you think they are coming in as well. Just to really be sure that the smell lingering and destroying those ant pheromone trails!

All of these oils can be diluted as well to use as cleaners – dilute 20 drops in a cup of water and use it to clean all the surfaces. Use the concentrate to target the entry zones. 

PEPPERMINT OIL – is particularly toxic to fire ants, good for repelling gnats and cockroaches too! And a lovely scent for humans!

LEMONGRASS OIL – the high level of citrus scent is the powerful one in this – plus it smells good. It is heavily marketed as an insect repellent. Citronella anyone? Good for mozzies too – but I would always use something else as well for mozzies.

CLOVE OIL – contains natural pesticide. Eugenol is a compound derived from cloves that is found in many pesticides. Although it won’t kill ants – it should make them uncomfortable through the smell and touch to look elsewhere. Its great for repelling wasps too!

You can buy all of these from Holland and Barrett (which is in many UK high streets) or obviously you can get it from Amazon – delivered to you mostly the next day at an amazon drop off point near where you are staying.  

If you are abroad – you can find a homeopathic store in the high street that will sell it. Be aware not to use essential oils with pets around – they can be toxic if ingested.

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coffee grinds or citrus skin peel

Sprinkle or place these around the entry points for ants coming into your motorhome. 

Ants don’t like the feel of the coffee grinds under their feet and they hate the strong smell of citrus fruits. Use both together for a double boost.

Lets hit the spice trail – there are a number of spices that are good for keeping ants out of your motorhome. Many of these you may have in yours – we certainly have them all in ours – so we use these all the time as preventers. 

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Cinnamon bark, black pepper, cayenne pepper and cloves

Sprinkle or place these around the entry points for ants coming into your motorhome. 

Again, it is the strong smell of these spices that make them effective deterrents and help you to keep ants out of your motorhome. 

Be aware that these are not as good as the essential oils as they blow around, whereas the oils not only stay where you put them – but because they are oil, they are water repellent too. 

The powder forms though, do suffocate ants. 

You can also take the action of putting chalk around your wheels – don’t forget this is the only way in for the ants, unless you have levelling legs down or awning poles up.

Ants can only climb up the thing that is touching the ground! A wise old man told me this…… (Damo!) I really am not sure why I needed to be told – its pretty obvious! 

If you follow all these rules and keep everywhere clean, you should be able to eliminate the problem of any ants in your motorhome! 

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