Friday, December 9, 2022


Our RV got infested with thousands of ants – a Gulliver’s Travels nightmare!


Do you know the popular story of “Gulliver’s Travels”? As the story goes, Lemuel Gulliver, a sea captain and surgeon who explores remote regions of the world, falls asleep after a shipwreck only to be awakened to realize he had been captured and tied up by the “little people,” or the Lilliputians, who are shorter than 6 inches tall. My story here is much the same.

Much like Gulliver, the legendary traveler, we full-timers travel to see America, especially the West. Even though we’re retired, it now appears inflation may be the impetus to bring us out of retirement. Thank goodness we no longer desire to be homeowners!

Like Gulliver, we met our match with thousands of invading ants.

Trekking through the sweltering desert

We had departed St. George, Utah, where we topped off our diesel pusher with 60 gallons of outrageously priced fuel, a mere $3.55 per gallon, or $213 greenbacks. Just think, only a couple of months ago, we filled up with 60 gallons for only $2.15 per gallon – about $129. If this isn’t inflation, could it be a wanton tariff? Nevertheless, I booked us a pull-through, full-hookup site in Orange County, California. It’s a beautiful setting nestled among trees, squirrels and thousands of noisy cars and long-haulers adjacent to a multi-lane freeway. Oh, gee. I almost forgot… millions of ants!

Settling into being unsettled

We parked and settled in after a day-long trek across the southern California desert. The next morning, I awoke to my cat staring at hundreds of puny ghost, thief or sugar ants crawling all over our bed and both of us. That startling feeling shakes you from deep slumber when you feel something crawling across your face and neck. They marched in on my spouse’s side, so he had them all over his head and awoke to himself sneezing, as some had gotten near his nose.

I can only imagine how Gulliver felt when he awakened to being carried by the little people! We both quickly showered to rid ourselves of any leftover critters and I proceeded to the front office.

This is the size of the little critters that invaded our motorcoach.

Dismissing an ongoing problem

I mentioned the problem we were having with ants and asked if others at the campground were having the same problem. Rather, I was apprised that this was not a new problem as ours was not a sole complaint. Since we weren’t advised in advance, I asked if they would please spray to eliminate the problem. The worker responded with, “This is a wilderness park, and we sell ant spray.” I’m thinking, “Wilderness, you say? Next to 16 lanes of freeway that one could throw a rock and hit a car from the park?” Puzzling.

Well, if some call Los Angeles a “jungle,” then I guess this park could be a wilderness. And to top it off, we can fall asleep to the rhythmic purring of Cats, Detroits and Cumminses nearby. All this with ants as a bonus!

Self-fulfilling problem solver

After the dismissal, we located and drove to Ace Hardware for advice and ant termination outcome. Ace’s personnel recommended two products that we purchased for $34. We left, feeling confident that we made the right decision to take the invasion head-on.

My spouse was fastidious in applying the powder around the perimeter and spraying the areas that had ground contact, openings in the wet bay, hoses and wires, etc. Anything those critters could reach. My task was to kill and clean inside. Surprisingly, Sprayway window cleaner does both quickly. At the onset of evening, we inspected the possible breached areas and called it a night, thinking we just may wake up without the ants.

No such luck!

Groundhog Day revisited

Déjà vu all over again! After washing the bedding and temporarily ridding the critters once again, we headed out to Lowe’s. Why Lowe’s? Because Lowe’s offers a 10 percent discount on everything they sell to veterans – a discount we graciously accept. Now on to Home-less Depot to purchase Zevo for inside, which is advertised as safe for pets. Now, my cat can truly see in the dark. Between the two box stores, we spent an additional $42. We finally deduced that the nightly sprinklers likely washed much of the insecticide off the utility side of our coach, requiring respraying at least twice daily. And the ant traps. Nada! The ants didn’t visit Hotel California, where they’d check in, but not check out! After all our efforts, the ants still win.

Thank goodness we didn’t find them eating our lunch.

Departure ensued

To add insult to injury, we needed to purchase diesel fuel on our way out. Because fuel in California is so highly taxed, we purchased 20 gallons for the low price of $4.95 per gallon or $99. Just enough to get us to Arizona and significantly lower fuel prices, saving almost $2 a gallon! And, several fuel discount cards were not accepted in the area we traveled. As they say in New York and southern Florida, “Such A Deal!”

Ending the ant saga

To end our tale of woe, the park was unwilling to address the problem. One neighbor in a short Airstream moved after three days to another location. Due to our size, that wasn’t an option.

The first use of powder and bug spray didn’t keep the ants at bay. What finally worked was daily spraying (morning and night) of Home Defense (the least expensive solution). We sprayed every surface you could imagine: inside and outside bays, the frame, hoses, openings, wet bay, jacks, slides, around the tires and tire covers. You name it, it was sprayed! And we still would deal with the little buggers now and then inside. It seems the only thing we didn’t spray was the TV antenna!

While other neighbors mentioned trying talcum powder and borax or vinegar as a  homeopathic measure, time was not our friend. We needed to quell the invasion. Like the neighbors on each side, who also experienced the nightmare, it would have been nice if the park took interest in our plight. They did not. If we had been boondocking, we would have picked up and moved to another location, void of ants! Since we were locked in, we stuck it out. Obviously, we won’t be returning anytime soon! And, we will always be wary of those little critters in every park that isn’t mostly concrete and blacktop. At least they weren’t fire ants!


Rid your RV of ants and keep them out


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2 months ago

Having been directed to this article 1 year later, the first thing that struck me was your sticker shock on the price of diesel in California in 2021….little did you know you should have been appreciating those low prices!
As of October 2022, the average price of diesel is easily double what you quoted in your article – over $6/gallon and sometimes much more! 😔

As for the ant problem, a great solution for deterring ants and other insects is diatomaceous earth. It won’t harm animals and it’s very effective.

Final word – I have taken California off my travel list until and if things ever improve. It’s a cesspool of high prices, fees and ridiculous rules and laws. The way it’s going, it won’t matter if we ever decide to go – RVs may be banned one day soon.

1 year ago

Comet sprinkled around all points that touch the ground will stop even fire ants from invading your RV. Once I tried this around the main entrance for an ant nest as a test and the little critters would not cross it. Finally, ensure that no tree branches touch your RV as the little ones may find there way inside from that avenue as well. I carry a nice set of loppers in our 5’er to take care of this…

1 year ago

We see where they’re coming in, block that off using Orange Guard, then clean up inside. Baiting them close to, but away from their former entrance with Terra is good too.

We surround anything touching the ground with diatomaceous earth. Usually effective, but some of these ‘magic ants’ tromp through it anyway

John Koenig
1 year ago

Another vote for TERRO products. I’ve only had ant problems twice in my RV (and a few times in my “stick & brick” when I owned a house). Each time TERRO Ant Bait QUICKLY solved the problem.

1 year ago

We had a smaller scale ant invasion in Georgia recently. Local farmers supply recommended an insecticide that had to be mixed and sprayed in containers designed to treat several acres. I had the wife take it back unused and bought Terro ant baits from Walmart for one fourth the cost. 2 days later no ants to be found.

R Miller
1 year ago

I lived in CA my whole life (probably in that same RV park after I retired) and I found a unique way of dealing with these pests for next to nothing. I in fact used this recipe and several days later I noticed a black cloud of dead ants where I had thought I cleaned.
Mix molasses, sugar and activated yeast into a paste, put it on plastic lids, or whatever, in the path of the ants. Let them eat to their heart’s content. Don’t forget to activate the yeast with warm water before mixing. Use the sugar to thicken. Works every time.

Sink Jaxon
1 year ago

That makes 123 reasons NOT to visit Cursed California, and still counting…

R Miller
1 year ago
Reply to  Sink Jaxon

You don’t have ants in your state?

Thomas D
1 year ago

Anytime soon?
How about NEVER!
Do others a favor. Name the campground.
All that money u spent could have gone for fuel

R Miller
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas D

I lived for almost a year in Canyon RV Park, Yorba Linda ( a wilderness park, BTW). It’s next to the 91 freeway and once when an accident occurred the freeway came to a stop and the silence woke me up.

1 year ago

We had an invasion of large carpenter ants in Florida. I made a solution of boiled water, sugar and borax, soaked cotton balls in the solution and put them in small cups around the camper (where our dog couldn’t get to them). The next day there were dozens visiting the solution and carried them to the nest. It took a couple of weeks to get rid of them all, but a short time to get most of them. We also put diatomaceous earth in hard to reach areas.

Pat Brown
1 year ago

forgot to add a site explaining uses of Diatomaceous Earth. Here it is:

Pat Brown
1 year ago

Not in our RV, but millions of Thatch Ants took over our yard, building thatch piles in/around all the retaining walls. Ant killer did not work. Our pest control company couldn’t rid them either indicating they are near impossible to kill. I don’t like the chemicals as my flower garden attracts many good bugs, butterflies, praying mantis, hummingbirds, etc. After much research, found inexpensive Diatomaceous Earth (DE), a powder (similar to Sevin dust) that suffocates the little monsters along with many other unwanted buggers. A couple of applications later, Walla! Must use when dry. And the stuff is natural silica substance and used for other applications. Food grade DE is good for skin, nails, the gut. Who would have known?

Royce Hershberger
1 year ago

Too bad they didn’t give the name of the park. Orange county Cali. is pretty large.

Donald N Wright
1 year ago

I wish I could rent a pair of hungry ant-eaters. I live in Texas.

1 year ago

I know the feeling and it’s not pleasant!

1 year ago

We had ants move into the RV’s foam insulation and build a nest. Very difficult to get rid of them. Bug bombs on a schedule finally eliminated the family.