Living in an exposed RV – one that isn’t inside of a building or other shelter – is an experience with all kinds of interesting dimensions. Many of the peculiar aspects of RV life are quite different from the stationary, housebound life (filling water tanks, emptying waste, leveling, stabilizing, etc.), but there is one area that we all have in common: how to deal with pests, vermin and invaders. Here I am talking about a list of creatures that make life anything from annoying to hazardous, from pack rats and ants, raccoons and squirrels, to yellow jackets and bald faced hornets.
Now I realize that this might be hard to understand for inexperienced folks out there – isn’t a moving RV kind of impervious to these kinds of annoyances? Well, maybe when it’s actually going down the road, but as soon as it stops, for the night or for the summer, it’s just like a house on a foundation to the innumerable critters that live in the world. It’s a target for them, and so are the inhabitants. Let’s not relive the NIGHTMARE of the Asian Lady Beetle infestation our first few months out as rvers, in 2009…
Our experience in the past when living in a log house was with vermin like pack rats – they are cute little stinky rodents that love to make nests under your house – and flying insects like the infamous yellow jacket of the northwest. Anytime you were outdoors in the summer months in Montana, there seemed to be swarms of these guys around, especially if there was food or sugary drinks involved. We learned to get special traps – the best are by the Rescue company – for these insects at the hardware store, and they seemed to help reduce the population. Of course, we were never sure if the traps actually attracted more of the little fiends to the area, but it was very satisfying to observe the gradual build-up of yellow jacket carcasses in the trap over time.
This summer in Montana we have made the acquaintance of a new flying pest that we had not seen before – the bald faced hornet (note their attractive photo below).
Why we hadn’t noticed them in our previous life here in our house we are not really sure, but it seems like they tend to come and go in different areas on an irregular time schedule. We started seeing these large black buzzing bugs flying around in mid-July, seemingly out of nowhere. At first we thought they were horseflies, but a swat and and an inspection disproved that theory. They had a strange, almost chromed-looking eye area like a visor, and a black and white striped body ending in a deadly unbarbed stinger – the better to sting a human with repeatedly.
They also flew differently than either horseflies or yellow jackets – they tended to swoop in fast arcs over your head, and hover on surfaces without landing. This made them very hard to swat, although it was fun to try, and I have managed to squash quite a few of them with my trusty dollar store swatters. But we soon found that our old yellow jacket traps were not catching any of the black and white devils, so we had to do some research. It turned out that the company that makes the yellow jacket traps also makes what they call The WHY TRAP by Rescue – the letters standing for Wasps Hornets and Yellow jackets. These are designed with larger holes for entry so that the fat little creeps can fit into them and die.
The next time we went into town we bought one, and set it up the next morning. Before long we were gleefully counting the number of bald-faced hornets accumulating in the trap, and were thankful for the Rescue trap experts. The great thing about the traps they make is that they can be rebaited, reused, and saved for next season. We plan to come back here next summer, and if it happens that the zebra-colored demons are again swarming, we’ll be ready for them.
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