How I keep Bugs and Rodents Out of my Cabin – Complete Guide

I was talking to my sister-in-law the other day at her family cabin and she told me a crazy story.  Shortly after they bought their cabin, they arrived to find that it had become a winter home to thousands of ladybugs!

It’s not uncommon for ladybugs and other insects to find a shelter that’s out of the elements for the cold seasons.  In fact, you’ll find that small animals will try to use your cabin for shelter too.  If your cabin is in an area where it does get cold, you need to make sure it’s ready to keep bugs and animals out out in the fall.  And no matter where you live, if you’re not proactive about keeping critters out, they’ll find their way in.  Keep reading for your complete guide to keeping bugs and rodents out of your cabin!

Before I go any further, this guide isn’t about termites and other wood boring pests.  If you’re looking for how to keep termites and other wood boring pests out of your log cabin, you can learn all about it in this article.

Prevention

The best way to get rid of pests is to prevent them from ever getting in.

My sister-in-law’s ladybug problem only happened because there wasn’t any protection in place to prevent it.  She and her husband aren’t to blame, though.  They had just bought the cabin.  Who knew a whole swarm of ladybugs was going to take refuge inside?

So here are some great options for keeping bugs and small animals out!

Keep the cabin clean

Both rodents and bugs tend to be creatures of opportunity.  While they do like to find a warm shelter for the winter, they also like to hole up somewhere that has a good food source.

Don’t keep food at your cabin unless it’s sealed in cans, buckets, or at least heavy-duty zip-loc style bags.

If they can smell any food (and they can smell pretty much anything) then they will try to get into your cabin.

So every time you leave your cabin, especially in the fall and winter seasons, make sure that you seal up any food that you leave behind.  And do as thorough a job of cleaning as you can.  Vacuum all floors.  Wipe down cooking and eating surfaces.  Most importantly, take out the trash.  It can be a big job to clean up right before you leave, but this will also make your cabin really nice to go to next time.

Plug up entry points

Believe it or not, mice and rats can squeeze into some really tiny places.  Any hole going into your cabin that’s bigger than about a dime needs to be plugged up.  Steel wool does a great job of plugging small holes.  Any larger openings should be covered with a wire mesh.

Some really common entry points for mice are

  1. Down the Chimney.  If you have a wood stove or fireplace, you should make sure the top of the chimney is capped with a material that will keep animals out.  There are dozens of styles of chimney caps out there for all sorts of chimneys.  So whether you have a wood stove or a fireplace with a big brick chimney, you can get a chimney cap with some sort of metal mesh around it that will keep animals out.  This will help with animals other than rodents too.  Birds are known to fly down uncapped chimneys.
  2. Through Attic Vent Holes.  Most houses with an attic space have vents.  They are often on a wall near the peak in the roof and on the underside of the roof overhang.  These vents usually have some sort of vent cover.  Make sure you check these vent covers often, especially in the fall.  If they have a hole worn or chewed through them, it’s likely there are animals getting into your attic through these holes.
  3. Small Gaps Along the Foundation.  Unless your foundation is poured concrete, there are likely small holes in it.  Mice can climb through tiny spaces.  They are known to climb right through holes in block foundations, or along the top of the foundation where the wood meets the footer.  Again, if you can find these holes you should plug them up.  Stuffing steel wool in small holes can often do the trick.
  4. Anywhere they can Chew Through.  Mice, Rats, even Squirrels will often chew right through wood siding trying to get inside a house or cabin.  Occasionally inspect your cabin for signs that rodents have been chewing.  If they have chewed through, cover this hole with wire mesh to prevent future entry and repair the damage when you can.

Really though, it’s not possible to keep all rodents and bugs out by plugging entry points.  Wire mesh won’t stop ants.  And no matter how hard you try, you’ll never find every mouse entry point.  Unless you build your cabin making sure that it is completely mouse-proof, you will eventually have some rodents get inside.  That’s why we have even more defenses we can put in place.

For insects and spiders use bug barriers

There are a lot of bug barrier products out there.  Some are pretty basic but really safe, even for indoor use.  Others are really powerful and should only be used outdoors.  What you use should depend on the bug situation at your cabin.

The idea behind the bug barrier is that you spray an insect killer all around your cabin along the ground or the base of the cabin where it meets the ground.  You also spray all the way around every window and door.  This is actually what the pest control companies do for ongoing bug prevention and treatment.  Except that there are a ton of products for this readily available at your local Walmart or home improvement store.  Or you can find it here on Amazon.  I like these ones with the electric sprayer because you just pull a little trigger and they have a continuous spray.  For going all around a cabin it’s nice to not have to use a hand sprayer.

These products are also safe for indoors and should be sprayed in every room around the base of each wall and around doors and windows.  If you use them indoors and out, you’re likely to not see a bug in the cabin for a good six months.  They say the spray can last longer than that, but I would go ahead and spray at least that often.

If you tend to have big problems with insects and the regular home-strength spray isn’t working, there are still options.  D-fense SC is a powerful product used by professionals that you can spray outside your cabin from the base of each wall, up as high as you can spray.  This stuff is professional grade and will prevent a situation like my sister-in-law’s lady bug nightmare.  It’s a little more expensive but still not terrible, and way better than vacuuming up ladybugs off of every surface in your cabin.  Check out current pricing on Amazon by clicking here.

Go ultrasonic!

If you’re not a chemicals person, or a traps person, or if you just one want more line of defense, you can always go ultrasonic.

There are several products available today that make noise at ultrasonic frequencies that we can’t hear.  But they really annoy bugs and rodents.  Convenient right?

Place a few of these throughout your cabin and they’ll go really far toward keeping all pests away from your cabin.  Here’s a highly rated one on Amazon.  I don’t have a dog up at the cabin, but reviewers are saying it works great and doesn’t seem to bother their dogs.  Some ultrasonic repellers work in a frequency that would upset pets too.  Apparently, this one operates at a frequency high enough that even dogs don’t seem affected.

This particular one seem to be effective at scattering pests in about a 1,000 square foot area.  So take that into account in determining how many you need for your cabin.

Getting Rid of Pests Already Inside

If you already have bugs and/or rodents inside (which you almost surely do whether you know it or not) you should start by following the steps above.  Keeping more pests from getting in will help your problem.  And, bugs and rodents often go back and forth between your cabin and the outside.  So a bug barrier will work to eliminate a lot of the bugs you have inside too.

But if your pest problem is substantial, and a bug barrier isn’t doing the trick, there are some more steps you can and should take to eliminate the problem.  And if you have rodents inside, you definitely want to do something about it.  Rodent feces is nasty stuff and has been known to spread deadly diseases like hantavirus.  So if you do ever see mouse or rat droppings in your cabin, you should act quickly.  Vacuum up the droppings and dump them outside.  Sweeping will get dust in the air and so will dumping them into a trash can indoors.  Then get to work to eliminate your rodent problem.

Here’s what to do.

Fumigate

It used to be that when someone fumigated their house, they put up a big tent and professionals came in hazardous chemical suits.  That’s not what we’re talking about here.

If you have an insect problem that you can’t resolve with simple bug barrier treatments around the inside and outside of the house, then it’s time for something a little more drastic.

When my sister-in-law had all those ladybugs, they started out by trying to capture them in big buckets and release them somewhere else, but all the ladybugs they captured just died.  So they did what they had to and fumigated.

So here’s what you do.  It’s actually pretty easy and not very expensive.  You get a fumigation product like this Raid Fumigator Dry Fog and follow the really basic instructions on the packaging.  The instructions may vary a little from product to product but the idea is the same.  Close up the cabin, set out the fumigator(s) using as many as you need for the size of your cabin, and you turn them on.  Most products, like this one, have a delay.  The product will release a dry fog that goes through the cabin and kills the bugs on contact.  Put these out, start them up, and then leave.

When you return to the cabin, preferably on another day, start by opening up the door.  If you have a screen door, that’s great.  Open the main door and leave the screen closed so you can just let the cabin air out a bit.  If it’s been a week or so, it should have aired out enough just from normal ventilation, but it’s not a bad idea to give it 30 minutes or so with the door(s) open.  Then, just head in and vacuum up all the bugs.

If you have a problem with fleas or bedbugs, then this fumigator won’t work.  Here’s another inexpensive fumigator that you can use for fleas and bedbugs.

Trap

For rodents and some insects, you can also use traps to capture and/or kill the ones that are inside.

The traditional, basic mousetrap actually works quite well.  And I have yet to find a bait that works better than peanut butter.  There are other traps that are designed to kill mice more quickly and humanely.  Here’s a good option on Amazon.  These traps do kill the mice that get caught so if you don’t like that, you may consider a capture/no kill trap like this one.

I recommend that you set out traps, whether you are aware of mice in your cabin or not.  If you have small children, I wouldn’t have them set while you’re there.  But every time you leave the cabin, I would set the mouse traps and then check them when you return.

For insects, you can find some good baits and traps as well.  If you have a problem with ants, for example, there are some great ant traps that do the job at your local grocery store.  The same goes for flies, wasps, and other pesky insects.

There are also traps for various other common pests.  Rats, moles, snakes, likely even racoons.  If you know what pests are in your cabin, get the right trap and get it taken care of.

Poison

The other option, if you don’t like the traps, is to use poison.  Rodent poison is really common.  And a lot of insect “traps” are actually poisons.  This can be a good option but what I like about traps is I know exactly where the rodent will die and I can dispose of it.  If you poison a mouse, it can go climb into a tiny hole and die and you’ll never find it despite the horrible smell that you’ll get.

Plus, I think the quickness of a trap is more humane than the slow death that rat poison causes.  That’s why for animals, I prefer the trapping route.  And if you can trap them alive and release them far from the cabin, more power to you.

Call Animal Control

If you are having a pest problem, but the pest is a larger or more dangerous animal, it might be time to call animal control if they’re in the area.  Racoons really like to make a home in attics and they can be really defensive and destructive.  Snakes have been known to make a home in cabin attics too.  So if you suspect that there are larger animals in your attic, get some professional help.  If there isn’t any of that around, then find someone with a strong constitution, good leather gloves, and a stick.

If you know what animal it is, you should be able to find and buy a trap designed just for it.  That’s probably a better option than going up into the attic with a stick.

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