Published on September 26th, 2013 | by Henri


Ridding cabin of cluster flies and other pests

Q.  We have a cabin in Upper Michigan that was built in the mid 1960s. Cluster flies drive us crazy, as well as mosquitoes getting in, along with mice, sometimes bats and we even had a red squirrel.

We have caulked everything we can think of, to no avail. Also, we would like to add some insulation (there is none behind the wood “panel” walls). Any thoughts on the most effective and efficient ways to tackle these matters?

A.    Unfortunately, the answer to these intrusions is always the same: Seal all possible points of entry. This will require a thorough inspection of every inch of the outside of your cabin — walls, floor, roof.

Bats will usually get inside around the joint where walls and roof meet, and they don’t need a big hole. Cabins, camps and similar rustic buildings. often have rafters extending through the walls to provide some overhang. Check around every rafter projection for the smallest crack where the wildlife that is disturbing you can get in. Seal small cracks with polyurethane caulking in a tube.

A red squirrel needs a bigger hole than a bat, possibly requiring him to chew an existing hole so he could get in. For larger cracks, you may need to use low-expansion canned foam but you will have to protect the foam with fine-mesh hardware cloth to keep animals from chewing through it.
Another and perhaps simpler system is to seal the overhangs with boards or plywood. If ventilation of an attic is desired in conjunction with a ridge vent, use off-the-shelf perforated metal soffit vents.

Be sure to check the joints of floor and walls, particularly if the cabin is on piers or stilts, as opposed to a full foundation.

If the cabin is unheated and strictly used in mild weather, you can have cellulose blown into the walls but stay away from wet-spray; it is unlikely to ever dry. The inability to provide a vapor retarder on the inside of the walls will not be a problem if the cabin is not used regularly in winter. I assume you have insulation in the ceiling, otherwise there would be no point in insulating the walls.

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