As Winter approaches, there’s a good chance you may be storing that old convertible or RV for next summer. While this may seem innocuous, you could leave your vehicle vulnerable to a pest infestation.

While pest infestations in your car may seem unlikely, they’re actually relatively common in the colder months. Whether searching for food, shelter, or both, pests can find a way into your vehicle through even the tiniest and most insignificant openings, wreaking havoc on electrical wiring and quickly multiplying.

This article will look at the most common pests responsible for infesting your vehicle, how they squeeze in, signs of pest infestation, and various ways to keep pests away.

What Pests May Try to Get Into Your Vehicle in the Cold?

Pests tend to invade your personal space for resources and shelter; while your car isn’t necessarily their first choice to inhabit, it’s a warm and dry space that’s likely better than outside.

Several types of pests may invade your vehicle throughout the winter, with the most common being:

Cockroaches: Cockroaches often invade vehicles to scavenge what food they can find. Even food hidden deep inside tight pockets and crevices can serve as a breeding ground for cockroaches. So, if you spot cockroach droppings in your car, this may be a sign that you have a cockroach infestation in your vehicle.

Bed Bugs: Contrary to popular belief, bed bugs are actually quite versatile pests, hiding in even the smallest nooks and crannies. While beds are their preferred feeding ground due to the close proximity to potential meals, they’ve been known to migrate into cars after contact with infested clothing, books, or furniture. Bed bug molt and shells are common signs of a bed bug infestation in your car’s upholstery.

Ants: Like cockroaches, ants are foragers with voracious appetites. With their heightened sense of smell, most ants can sense the presence of food several meters away, making their anthill next to your driveway well within range to pick up the scent of food. In addition, with their miniscule size, ants can squeeze into even the tiniest gap in your car’s weatherstripping, making quick work of the leftovers under the seat. While ants won’t reproduce in your car, the sheer number of workers making up a single trail is more than enough to pose a problem.

Mice and Rats: Both rodents can also squeeze their bodies into seemingly impossible spaces, making quick work of holes in your firewall or missing door seals. Once inside, mice and rats will consume any and every morsel of uneaten food strewn across the floor; they may even begin nesting under the hood or in the interior due to the plentiful supply of carpet padding, sound deadening, fabric, and other supplies. Additionally, rodents pose the most severe threat to your vehicle’s reliability. They’re known to chew holes into wiring, protective loom, and rubber hoses responsible for transporting coolant, oil, and crankcase vapors.

Spiders: These 8-legged predators can often be found spinning webs throughout your vehicle’s suspension, near the side view mirrors, or even inside of the cab–especially if your interior is already infested with cockroaches or bed bugs. In any dry, secluded area with a bountiful food source, spiders will thrive.

How to Prevent Bugs in Your Vehicle

Though vehicle-invading pests come in all different shapes and sizes, the means of preventing them are generally the same. By following these simple tips, you can keep your car or truck clean and pest-free.

Perform Routine Cleanings

One of the most effective means of keeping pests from entering your vehicle is to keep its interior and exterior clean. Routinely spraying off the undercarriage, mirrors, and other tight spaces is an excellent means of preventing spiders from building webs and laying eggs.

In addition, cleaning the interior will help to prevent scavengers from making a meal out of your forgotten leftovers, spills, and messes. So even during the winter, don’t hesitate to bust out the vacuum and cleaning supplies, and make sure to get under the seats!

Close Your Windows

While this one may seem obvious, it’s not uncommon to accidentally leave a window cracked after airing-out the interior on a warmer day. Unfortunately, this provides the perfect entry point for pests of all shapes and sizes. So before parking your vehicle for the night, make sure to double check all of your windows.

Be Mindful of Your Surroundings

If you’ve noted the presence of ants, rodents, or any other pest in your vehicle, take note of its location and the surrounding conditions. For example, note if there’s an anthill beside the driveway or a spider-infested tree nearby.

In any situation, treating the surrounding infestations is best before tackling localized pest control on your vehicle, ensuring that the root of your issue is handled.

Don’t Leave Vehicles Idle For Extended Periods

Most pests aren’t too keen on the presence of humans, and will likely avoid vehicles that are used on a daily basis. However, the occasionally driven/spare car parked on the side of the driveway may be the perfect target for rodents and spiders. So, if you routinely find pests making a home of your spare car, consider taking it out for a spin at least once a week, and don’t forget to run it through the car wash for good measure!

Concluding Thoughts

While not as likely as home infestations, it’s not uncommon to find pests in or around your vehicle from time to time. However, with proper preventative care, you can significantly reduce the chance of a full-scale infestation.

In the event of a seemingly never-ending infestation, don’t hesitate to contact your local pest professionals for various home and vehicle treatment options.