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7 Ways to Keep Pests Out of Your Cabin

Use these savvy strategies to keep unwanted critters from invading your log cabin, summer home or cottage this vacation season.

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Raccoon On Trash CanCarol Hamilton/Getty Images

The Most Common Cabin Pests

All the things that drew you to invest in a log cabin or cottage in the first place — the fresh air, the wildlife, the fauna — will be quickly forgotten if hordes of unwanted invaders start encroaching your indoor space. Some of the most common creeping, crawling, scampering and slithering pests in cabins include:

  • Termites, specifically subterranean, drywood and dampwood termites;

  • Beetles, including Asian lady beetle (ladybugs), larder beetles, long-horned beetles, flat-headed wood borers, powderpost beetles, old house borers and non-reinfesting wood boring beetles;

  • Boxelder bugs;

  • Carpenter ants;

  • Carpenter bees;

  • Wasps and hornets;

  • Cluster flies;

  • Fruit flies;

  • Mosquitoes;

  • Spiders;

  • Rodents, including house mice, deer mice and Norway rats;

  • Raccoons;

  • Snakes.

The type of pest you may encounter depends on the geographical location of your cabin and the surrounding terrain. Log cabins in the cool and wooded Northeastern or Northwestern states may attract raccoons and mosquitoes, whereas those in the warm plains of the Southern states can be invaded by termites or the odd snake.

No matter where your cabin is located, here are some effective ways to keep the local wildlife outside where it belongs.

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exterior siding and trim caulkFamily Handyman

Seal Holes and Cracks

The most effective way to keep pests out of your cabin is also the most tedious: sealing up any holes, cracks or other small entry points where crafty critters can squeeze through. Log cabins are especially prone to developing gaps in the walls between the logs as the structure settles over time or expands and contracts with temperature fluctuations.

Check your cabin thoroughly from chimney to foundation when you close it up in the fall and again when you reopen it in the spring. Inspect attic vents and utility openings, plugging any openings with caulk, mortar, urethane expandable foam, steel wool or wire mesh. Install door sweeps or thresholds at the base of all exterior entry doors to eliminate gaps between the bottom of the door and the floor.

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torn window screenZmaj88/Shutterstock

Give Your Screens a Once-Over

While checking your cabin for hidden openings pests, take a few minutes to eyeball your door and window screens as well. Repair holes or tears to keep out flies, gnats and mosquitoes during summer and cluster flies, ladybugs and small rodents in early fall.

If you are in an area prone to leafhoppers, hackberry psyllids, midges or other insects small enough to fit through a standard screen, consider installing a finer mesh screen. Sturdy copper bronze screens are more challenging for rodents to chew through, keeping mice and rats at bay.

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Establish a Buffer Zone

Tidy up the perimeter around the foundation of your cabin, keeping grass and brush neatly clipped and moving stacks of firewood at least 20 feet away. Overgrown vegetation, woodpiles and tool storage offer handy hiding spots or winter residences for everything from rodents to snakes. The closer these critters are to your cabin, the more opportunities they have to get inside.

You should also store your trash in a garbage can with a strong locking lid, well away from your cottage. If it’s too close, sneaky looters like raccoons will mark it as a hot spot for an easy meal, and may be tempted to venture inside for more.

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Dim the Lights

You may be tempted to flood the outdoor spaces with light to make the most of your evenings at the cabin. Don’t. Bright bulbs can act as a beacon to attract clouds of insects from miles around. Some of these winged partiers will buzz into your cabin every time you open a door or window.

For outdoor lighting that won’t attract all those bugs, use yellow compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. This type of bulb emits a wavelength of light insects can’t see. And they stay cool, so bugs aren’t drawn to the heat as they are to a standard bulb.

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Cleanup Housework Concept Closeup Cleaning Woman Sweeping Wooden Floor With Red Small Whisk Broom And Dustpan IndoorVoyagerix/Shutterstock

Do a Deep Clean

Rodents and bugs are attracted to food sources. So the cleaner you keep your cabin’s interior, the less likely you are to attract opportunistic pests.

Be meticulous. Wipe down cooking and eating surfaces after every use, and sweep or vacuum the floors regularly to avoid crumbs building up. Wipe down the log walls at least every few weeks to limit dust and eliminate breeding grounds for insects.

Tightly seal any stored food in canisters, glass jars, lidded plastic bins or heavy-duty food storage bags, especially pantry staples left behind when you close the cabin for the season.

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Build a Bug Barrier

For a strong line of defense, create an insecticide barrier around your cabin to deter bugs. Spray a specially formulated indoor/outdoor insect repellent along the ground or the foundation, as well as around every window and door exterior. Then head inside and do the same in every room around the base of each wall and around the doors and windows.

Most bug barrier products are effective for about six months. Opt for a product with an electric sprayer for a continuous spray without the hassle of a hand pump.

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Use Ultrasonic Tech

For a high-tech deterrent against insects, rodents and snakes, try an ultrasonic pest repeller. It works by emitting noise at a frequency humans and pets can’t hear but many insects and animals find unpleasant.

Place a few ultrasonic pest repeller devices throughout your cabin’s interiors, or create a defensive perimeter with a set of solar-powered outdoor ultrasonic devices encircling your cabin. Indoor devices generally cover about 1,000 square feet, while outdoor sets can cover up to 5,000 square feet — powerful enough to keep pests away from most cabins.

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Rebecca Winke
Rebecca Winke moved to Italy from Chicago in 1993 and shortly thereafter took a deep dive into country living by renovating a sprawling medieval stone farmhouse and running it as a B&B for 20 years. Today, she spends her time writing about travel, culture, and food (it's Italy, after all!) for publications like The Telegraph and Italy Magazine, as well as pondering the strange winds that blew an urban vegetarian to a farm in Umbria.

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