Can You Get Termites in an RV?


termites in rv lg

An RV is a lot like a regular home, just on wheels. Unfortunately, many of the repair and maintenance issues with traditional homes also apply to RVs. But can you get termites in an RV?

As a general rule, it is possible to get termites in an RV. Termites are drawn not only to regular wood but also to manufactured wood as typically used in RVs. So any RV parked extensively is at risk for termite infestation.

Sure, if you keep moving your RV, the chances of getting termites go drastically down, but you are not going to be driving 24/7.

If you have any woodwork inside the RV, which you most probably do, or have an older RV, there’s a chance that you can get a termite infestation.

Termites eat wood, so if you have any wooden furniture inside your RV, they find it very delicious to eat. The exterior of an RV is usually not made from wood, so you don’t have to worry about them chewing through aluminum, steel, and metal.

So yes, you can get termites in an RV.

But there’s more to learn about termites and RVs. So, let’s get started.

What Types of Termites Are in the US?

There are 2 types of termites in the US. And depending on your area, one or both types can be present. You’ll need to identify what type your area has and, if you really have termites in the RV, what kind is infesting your vehicle. Let’s discuss the 2 major types of termites in the US.

Subterranean Termites

Subterranean termites, as the name suggests, live below the soil and need to be always in contact with it.

They also require a water source nearby to keep cool and protect themselves from extreme temperatures. Subterranean termites have colonies built in the soil, and they also build soil tunnels to reach the source of food.

This allows them to move easily to and from their home to their “work”.

They don’t know the difference between an RV or a motorhome; they’ll invade all just the same. In case you want to know the differences, here is a recent article that dives deep.

The motor aspects of motorhomes are obvious, but what really surprised me was how subtle differences can drastically affect insurance costs.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

These termites build soil tunnels called mud tubes to protect themselves from external temperature. The worker termites are tasked with building these tubes using soil, wood, and salivary substances.

Depending on the workflow, the tubes can be thin or sturdily built. Termites can breach the RV structure by making these mud tubes from their colony to the interior of your RV.

This also means that the subterranean termites are easier to spot. If you have any mud tubes running up your RV, you’ll probably have a termite infestation going on.

Of course, you have to look carefully around the whole RV in order to spot the mud tubes. Unfortunately, sometimes they build internal pathways by hollowing out the wood. This can be a bit tougher to spot.

Drywood Termites

Drywood termites are usually found around a 50–100-mile band on coastal areas from South Carolina up to California. These termites are also present in Hawaii. That doesn’t mean they aren’t found in other states, but usually, they make their home in these areas.

These pesky insects do not require any contact with the soil and can easily live inside the RV for the duration of their lives.

This also means they will continue eating at the wood inside your RV even if you move around a lot. Once they are inside, it is not easy to spot them because they do not need to build any shelter or mud tunnels.

In short, termites can be found in all States. Whether you are in Florida or California, they have an uncanny way of finding their way inside your RV.

How Do I Keep Termites Out of my RV?

Commercial Termite Killer -- This one is the easiest method. Put it in a sprayer and spray the termites, spray the trail, and also spray their mounds.

Termite Bait Stations -- You can easily find termite baits online. They are said to be less destructive to the environment. They’re also not toxic and won’t poison children and pets that live inside the trailer.

But I also really like these termite-killing stakes from Amazon. Just hammer the stakes into the ground around the perimeter of your RV. The pop-up indicator lets you know of termite activity, but it also kills them in their tracks.

It’s got over 6,000 reviews and most are 5-stars!

Use Cardboard Boxes -- Flaten out several cardboard boxes and lay them down. Then spray the cardboard boxes until they are soggy.

We are preparing a treat for the termites, a termite dinner if you will. Place the cardboard around any termite mounds. Now checkup on the cardboard boxes every few days, and you’ll see that they’re filled to the brim with termites.

You can now burn the cardboard boxes along with the termites. This won’t completely eradicate the problem but will surely decrease the local termite population.

Boric Acid and Propylene Glycol -- You can easily get these substances from your local hardware store. Mix both of these and apply them to any wood near the infestation. Propylene glycol will carry the boric acid inside the wood. Boric acid will then clamp down on termites’ legs. This will end up killing them eventually.

I still recommend that you call in a professional to do the job for you. They are not that expensive, especially when you consider the financial damage termites can rack up.

How To Get Rid of Termites in an RV

The first step you can take is to identify the type of termites you have. You can find documentation online, but the easiest way is to get some termites that you’ve seen in or around your RV and take them to your local agricultural office.

These guys are the experts in identifying what kind of termites you have. Once you have sufficiently identified what kind is eating up your walls and/or furniture inside the RV, you can take other steps.

In the case of subterranean termites, you can try to handle them yourself, and there is no need to call an exterminator.

This is because they have a need to be connected to their colony in the soil. If you simply move the RV, this contact will be severed, and no more termites will enter the RV.

If you’re worried about the remaining termites inside the RV, they will simply die out.

If moving isn’t an option, you can call in a professional to treat the soil around the RV, which can take a couple of hours to do. They can get rid of termites from a motorhome or a travel trailer too.

Termites don’t discriminate, but if you want to know the difference between a motorhome or a travel trailer, a recent article talks about them.

Can You Fumigate an RV and Will That Kill Termites?

In case you have drywood termites, there is no other option but to call professional pest control services. The RV will be enclosed inside a large trap, and the professionals will fumigate it. The process usually takes around 1 to 2 days and will completely kill the termites.

You might be thinking about doing it yourself, but I recommend letting the professionals handle this process as it is unsafe as well as illegal to do it yourself.

Professional pest control services have safety equipment and proper protocols set in place that completely eradicates termites.

The fumigation process is also harmful to humans, and I advise you utilize professional services for this. Of course, you’ll need to stay in a hotel room for a day or 2 during the fumigation, so plan accordingly.

Will fumigation damage the RV equipment? No, it shouldn’t. But certain pieces of RV equipment last longer than others.

Here’s a recent article that talks about how long RV equipment should last. But I also cover a few simple tips that can extend the life of your RVs equipment by 20%.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

What Do Termites Eat in an RV?

Wood. They love to eat wood and products that use wood. Technically speaking, they eat cellulose which can be obtained from wood, leaves, grass, manure, paper, cotton, and cardboard. In an RV, they’d love to snack on any wooden furniture.

But they might also be drawn to wood, masonite, or particleboard cabinets, walls, or fixtures.

What Kind of RV is Most Susceptible to Termites?

Any RV that extensively uses wood in its construction or interior is more susceptible to termites. Remember, termites only invade a place if it has their favorite food inside.

So, if you have old or new wooden furniture, termites would love to grab a bite.

Repair Termite Damage

I recommend you check your insurance policy and whether termite damage is covered under it. In my experience, not a lot of RV policies cover termite damage as it is usually classified as a maintenance issue and not a loss.

In case you got subterranean termites, there is a high chance your RV has a water leak as subterranean termites need a consistent source of water.

I recommend taking your RV to a professional RV repair shop and letting them examine it thoroughly.

A qualified RV repair shop will be able to check your RV for any structural damage, find any leaks, and also give you a ballpark figure in case you need to repair it.

How To Tell Termites Apart!

Conclusion

Yes, your RV can get termites, but proper prevention and action can reduce the damage they do.

Always being alert and thoroughly examining your RV at least once a week can help avoid any termite infestation.

Examining the ground around the RV is also recommended to recognize termite mounds and move the RV if necessary.


Image by Roy Buri from Pixabay

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Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell travels on and off with his 3 daughters in a Newmar Baystar Class A Motorhome. He writes extensively on both RVs, campgrounds, parenting on the road tips, remote learning & schooling, and much more!

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