Ask Andrew: Dealing with Pesky Pests

Bird Droppings

Jan 25, 2024

bird droppings cover a deck

A boat trip can be ruined (or at least made more cumbersome and annoying) when stepping on board and finding that nature has taken over. Birds, Insects, critters will all love your boat as much as you do – but for very different reasons.



Spiders tend to be attracted to the cold damp spaces inside and will love to weave webs and nests particularly in your canvas. Ultimately, though, they’re attracted to a food source: other bugs. Midges, mosquitos, fruit flies and ants are the prey of choice. Logic says, if you can get rid of the food source, you’ll also be rid of the spiders. This may be easier said than done. Here are a few pro-tips:

 – Fruit flies and ants are attracted to food and food waste – keep fresh fruit and waste to a minimum and keep surfaces clean of any food spills.

 – Step aboard as often as you can: areas with movement and high traffic are where bugs and critters will avoid

 – Use a spider repellent. There are many sprays available at your local garden centre, marine chandlery or big-box store.

 – For those looking for a more natural solution: A mixture of peppermint oil and water might do the trick

 – There are a number of ultrasonic plug-in devices that spiders don’t enjoy. Plug the device into an outlet and let it do its work.



 It’s not so much the birds that are the problem: it’s the mess they leave behind. To avoid the mess, you have to avoid the visit! As you can imagine, birds are looking for a place to perch while searching for their next meal. To encourage them to roost elsewhere:

 – ensure that any fish or fish remains are stowed away or cleaned up. Birds will be attracted to any immediate food source

 – same goes for any outdoor cooking or waste/spills from meals.

 – Try strategically placing plastic versions of predators on your deck: Plastic owl figures, or rubber snakes are common. The more life-like the better. These may deter birds.



This is my generic term for small mammals that tend to make their way aboard: mice, rats, squirrels and raccoons. Not so common during the boating season, but quite common during periods of winter storage when boats are left for long periods of time, and critters are looking for a winter home. By shrink-wrapping or tarping, we even create a cozy environment for them to winter. Unfortunately, once they’re inside, they produce numerous problems: ruining carpet and flooring, ripping apart cabinetry, damaging electrical wires. They leave fur, waste and smells that are tough to get out. The only real cure is to prevent them from turning your boat into a nest in the first place:

 – ensure that tarps and shrink-wrap are nice and tight, with no access points.

 – Check on your boat through the off-season to make sure that there is no damage to your cover’s integrity

 – Remove any food/waste before storing for winter

 – Close doors, companionways and hatches when storing for the winter so that critters are limited in the areas that they can access.

 – If critters DO find their way aboard, be sure to contact your insurance company to work on next steps together. Critter damage can be extensive and costly; you may want advice and support from professional repair techs and detailers to bring your boat back to new.

With boat show season upon us, now is a great time to check out the latest offerings and options available to help support your mission to keep your boat pest free for 2024. Keep your eye out for pest control, cleaning, and deterrents during your show visit!

Andrew McDonald

Andrew McDonald is the owner of Lakeside Marine Services – a boat repair/maintenance firm based in Toronto. Andrew has worked in the marine industry for 12 years and is a graduate of the Georgian College ‘Mechanical Techniques – Marine Engine Mechanic’ program.Questions or comments for Andrew? Email him directly via: info@lakesidemarineservices.ca

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