Pests can and will infiltrate every area of your life, from your house to your car and even your boat. Boat docks are teeming with spiders, birds and other pests, all of which can make a mess (or even cause damage to) your boat if left unchecked.
Eradicating and repelling pests around your boat requires different techniques than you would use at home. The small, confined space inside a boat isn’t suitable for bug bombs, and the use of chemical treatments is generally inadvisable around marinas, as they can potentially wreak havoc on the surrounding aquatic ecosystem.
So, how can you implement marina pest control in a way that’s both effective and environmentally friendly?
How to keep spiders, birds and other pests off your boat dock
Spiders are common visitors on boats but, despite their crucial role in the control of other insect pests, they’re rarely welcome. This is chiefly because of the webs they leave behind, which can be time-consuming to clear away – especially if you were hoping to get straight out on the water!
But webs aren’t the worst thing spiders leave behind; their poop is. Spider poop looks like black, brown or gray specks and can often be found in corners and on seat covers, which can build up quickly in the case of large infestations. Think you can just wipe them away?
Spider droppings may be easy to clean up if they’re fresh, but if left awhile they will harden into a persistent crust that is almost impossible to shift. Even if you do manage to somehow chip away at the mess, spider poop can leave stains that could ruin your seat covers.
Finally, there are several spider species that can deliver a nasty bite. North America has two potentially dangerous arachnid species; the Brown Recluse, and the Black Widow. An attack from either of these could lead to serious medical complications, ranging from severe pain to skin necrosis and, in rare cases, death.
Spider-proofing your boat is, therefore, in the best interests of everyone on board. So, what are the best boat dock spider control methods, and how can you use them to keep your boat web-free?
How to get rid of spiders on your boat dock
- Use a spider spray
Picking up a spider spray for your boat dock can be an easy way to keep arachnids away from your vessel. The most effective products are formulated with ingredients that kill both spiders and insects, which eliminates their food source and discourages more from arriving.
Given the delicate state of the aquatic ecosystem around your boat, however, it’s best to choose a spray that makes use of natural ingredients. Some plant extracts, like peppermint oil, strongly repel spiders without having any adverse effect on the surrounding environment.
- Set up spider netting
Spider netting creates a physical barrier between your boat and the outside world, making it impossible for spiders (and other insects) to find their way inside. These nets can be custom made to fit your boat perfectly, giving complete coverage that no bug can penetrate.
You should also consider installing permanent screens over possible entry points to your boat. Spiders can squeeze their way in through any tiny gap or opening, so cover as many of them as possible to keep your boat free from invaders.
- Keep your boat clean (and store food correctly)
Deep clean your boat as regularly as possible to stop spider infestations from taking hold. By removing everything that can be taken out and getting in there with the vacuum cleaner, you can remove live spiders, webs and egg sacs, keeping your arachnid population to a minimum.
Another notorious dockside pest is the gull, a bird that can be seen anywhere and everywhere there are boats. Though not as repulsive as spiders, birds are even worse shipmates, and the mess they can leave on your boat could have you scrubbing for hours.
This is because gulls like to perch and gather on the mast and spreaders of boats, where they often settle in large numbers to rest and eat. This means droppings, droppings and more droppings – plus fish guts, all smeared over your boat’s deck and canvas.
And if the fish-entrails-and-poop soup wasn’t bad enough, gulls have also been found to carry harmful bacteria, such as E.coli, which they could potentially transmit to people aboard your boat.
Keeping birds well away from your boat is the only way to avoid the horrific mess and potential stomach upset, but how can you keep seagulls off your dock?
How to get rid of birds on your boat dock
- Install moving, swaying or reflective items around your boat
Swaying items, or items that reflect sunlight, can mess with a bird’s vision when they attempt to land, which deters them from touching down. Many bird deterrent devices (such as the bird spider) make use of moving parts or reflective surfaces to prevent birds from landing on your mast or spreaders.
Simply place swaying or reflective items on high points of your boat, where they will move with the motion of the wind and ocean to keep birds off your boat while you’re away.
- Use bird netting
Like spider netting, bird netting can be draped over your boat to keep pests off. However, rather than stopping birds from entering your boat, bird netting prevents them from landing. Gulls hate to land on unstable surfaces, and the swaying, wobbly net will immediately have them looking for somewhere else to rest.
- String up some fishing line
Fishing line works for the same reason that bird netting does; birds simply don’t want to land on an unstable surface. Stringing up the fishing line a few inches above the mast and spreaders of your boat is an easy and inexpensive way to keep them from landing there.
Marina pest control is essential for keeping spiders, birds and other pests off your boat. Spider spray for boat docks, used alongside nets, screens and preventative pest control measures is the best way to keep your boat clean and pest-free year-round.
Have heavy spider infestation with big mess that goes with it. Where did I get spider spray that is ok to use around boat docks?
You should try using Essentria IC3 Insecticide Concentrate. For other tips on dealing with the issue, here’s our article about best spider sprays.
What is the best spray to use for carpenter bees on a boat house
We suggest giving Essentria IC-3 Insecticide a try. Make sure to read the label!