Dealing With Pests At Your Cottage

By Johanna Crisholm • Last Updated July 12 2022

Moving closer to Mother Nature means you’re going to be running up against some of her other kin — a lot more of them than you would whie living in a busy metropolis. Not only will pests become more commonplace, but the variety of wildlife you can expect to cross paths with will grow significantly. Depending on where your cabin is situated within the vast expanse that encapsulates Canadian cottage country, the list of possible unexpected visitors may include ones you may be more familiar with. 

These include: mice, rates, ants, hornets, wasps, squirrels and raccoons.

On the other end of the spectrum, there may be pests that you might not have even seen before, so much as had to deal with them living right next door to you. 

These might include: bears, coyotes, wolves, rattlesnakes, deer and moose.

Be aware: Home insurance will likely not cover pests

Pest control, for both primary and recreational properties, is considered routine maintenance by most home insurance providers and therefore any cost to exterminate, prevent or even damage caused to your property by pests will likely not be covered. Get ahead of these larger costs down the road by investing your time and money into pest prevention.

What you need to know

While your chances of running up against this set of wildlife is less likely than the former list, there is some general advice you should follow so as to avoid either sets of creatures from getting too comfy in your immediate surroundings.

1. For smaller pests (rodents and bugs)

Seal up all possible crooks and crannies - both ones you can see inside and outside your cottage - with steel wool or copper mesh. This may include crawling under the cottage to cover up potential points of entry, as these spots will likely be a rodents’ main access point in the wintertime when the snow has covered up other prime locations. 

What size of hole do I need to worry about?

You’ll need to get every hole that’s the size of your pinky finger or larger. Mice can collapse their bones, so even if you find yourself thinking, “there’s no way!”, then think again. For mice, there’s always a way.

2. Keep food sealed

Keep all food on shelves in containers tightly sealed and countertops clear of any crumbs, particularly when you’re going away for longer periods or closing up for the season. 

3. Food and Waste Treatment

Make sure food and waste is properly treated outside your cabin: If you’re barbequing and you drop a corn on the cob on the ground, don’t just leave it there. Same goes for any leftover food or pet food you have around the cottage. You’ll also want to ensure your waste bins and compost pit are properly sealed up, as these can attract not only mice and squirrels, but also larger prey like coyotes and hungry bears.

Keeping waste and compost bins properly sealed is your best protection against raccoons.

What you (maybe) don’t know

1. Compost bins will attract hungry pests

If you have one, keep it sealed with a heavy and difficult-to-manoeuvre lid. To further discourage wildlife from sneaking into your home, keep the compost pit as far away from your main structure as possible.

2. Do NOT feed animals. Ever.

This may sound simple, but it bears underscoring as wildlife experts routinely find this to be the number one cause of unwanted four-legged animals finding their way onto the property of their two-legged counterparts: do NOT feed the animals. Big or small.

Yes, it’s lovely to see wildlife up close and personal. But what’s not so lovely is when the bird feed you were leaving out for the nearby cardinals gets knocked over by some determined chipmunks, who then leave a trail of partially consumed bird seed for scavenging mice to peck at, who then start to rely on your humble abode for sustenance and begin making your cottage their main stopover between breakfast and dinner.

It sounds cold, but if you want to limit the possibility of furry critters cuddling up in your washing machine vent, then it’s the best piece of advice to follow.

2. Watch for signs of different pests

For instance, are you noticing a lot of saw dust build up around the door frames of your cottage? That’s a common sign of carpenter ants digging their way through your framing. Did you know that squirrels are often louder and bouncier than their smaller rodent cousins? You might not hear a mouse, but you’ll definitely hear a squirrel. Knowing what you’re dealing with is the first step in taking targeted action against the creatures that have unwelcomingly claimed your home as their own. 

3. Other Tips

  • Trim back branches around your cottage
  • Keep your woodpile clear of exterior walls
  • Carpenter ants are attracted to moisture, so you’ll deal with any water leaks promptly to further deter the gnawing pests.