8 things to keep in mind when dealing with pests inside your car

These uninvited guests can be a major headache
by Drei Laurel | Jun 21, 2017

Cockroaches, ants, ratsand mosquitoes--having these pests inside your vehicle is something no driver ever wants to deal with. Regardless of whether they crawl or buzz around, get rid of them immediately. Because there's no feeling quite like that mini heart attack you get upon realizing there's an unwelcome passenger climbing up your pant leg in the middle of a drive.

With that in mind, we've put together a short guide on how to remove and prevent unwanted guests from calling your vehicle home. Here are a few things to keep in mind when dealing with them, straight from our experts:

1. Be careful where you park. Avoid parking under ant-infested trees or stagnant bodies of water. Positioning one's ride within the vicinity of these pests' breeding grounds is just asking for trouble. "Common sense will dictate not to park your car next to or on top of an anthill or, even worse, giving your hotrod some cool shade under a tree where army ants have nestled," says Top Gear Philippines writer Manskee Nascimento.

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Meanwhile, technical editor Ferman Lao shares it's best to ensure any spot is clean and well lit prior to parking: "By keeping the area where you park your car generally clean, you reduce the chances of mosquitoes migrating into your car's cabin. " He adds to make sure all windows and doors are closed before leaving your vehicle.

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2. Don't eat inside your vehicle. For obvious reasons. After all, you don't want to turn your ride into a mobile buffet table. "If you can't avoid it completely, make sure to always do a proper clean-up after," Manskee says.

3. Watch your hygiene. Anything from different kinds of body odor and sweat, to smelly socks and feet can attract mosquitoes, says Ferman. "How we smell affects how prone we are to being bitten. Scientists haven't entirely identified which scent yet, but noted that some odors are more attractive to mosquitoes than others." Avoid leaving sweaty gym clothes inside your car. Keep in mind though that certain perfume scents also attract pests.

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4. Your seat covers make a difference. Avoid synthetic-leather seat covers, Ferman says. These don't breathe, leading to more sweat and residue. Fabric alternatives are better. You can even skip seat cover completely and use a fabric protector instead.

5. A quick wash and vacuum might do the trick. You can try flushing out those pesky bugs via a quick trip to the car wash, Manskee says: "Ants aren't fond of water so if you have neglected your car for some time, then a good wash followed by vacuuming all internals would definitely be in check."

Do remember to get into every nook, cranny and corner of your vehicle though, as "These provide a hiding place for the skeeters to rest while they wait for their prey to appear," says Ferman. 

If rats or mice somehow find their way into your engine bay, Ferman says a little detailing may help: "Getting the engine bay detailed will, at the very least, get rid of some of the scent that may have been left behind by both man and mice. This also includes urine, which animals use to mark their territory."

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6. If all else fails, go with insecticide, baits and traps. Or in Manskee's case, water-based insecticides: "I sprayed it in the suspected areas of infestation, including the handbrake slit. I also sprayed some areas within my dash, as they tend to thrive and lay eggs in such places. Immediately after spraying, I closed all the doors with the windows completely shut to allow the chemicals to stay concentrated within the cabin." Of course, do not forget to air your vehicle out afterwards. Remember, bigger game such as mice and rats will require bigger traps, too.

7. An organic approach can work, too. Citronella-based insect repellants and bars are easily available, and citronella-based air fresheners are already available in the market.  Manskee calls it "nature's gift to us cockroach haters."

8. Don't neglect your car. According to Manskee, garage queens are more prone to bug invasions than daily drivers. "A vehicle that is used twice or thrice a week won't attract these resourceful arthropods. Go for a drive!"

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"Vehicles that are immobile for long periods of time or those which are not being used often are the ones that usually encounter this problem. After all, rodents may find it comfortable to live inside a non-moving home," Ferman says.

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