Common Hot Tub Pests & Solutions

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Unwelcome guests in your spa can be a nuisance and a hassle. Finding rodents, frogs, bees, or ants can all lead to a terrible time in the tub. To help you avoid these potentially costly pests, I’ve thrown together some treatment and prevention pointers.

Rodents

mice

You enjoy your hot tub, but the last thing you want to do is share it with unexpected guests. The cabinet of a hot tub can provide a safe and warm place for mice to take up residence and start a family. The insulation provides a perfect source for bedding and nesting. When mice move in, your hot tub wiring, flexible tubing, and the cabinet itself can become a midnight snack. To prevent a vermin invasion, make sure your cabinet is sealed around the bottom and inspect the outside shell regularly to ensure there are no breaches.

Frogs

frog

Similarly to rodents, frogs may be looking for a warm place to rest. Frogs enjoy the heat from your hot tub as much as you do. If you do not have an air tight cover on your spa while it is not in use, you may find a surprise waiting for you the next time you go to take a dip. Frogs have been known to contaminate hot tubs by jumping into the water or simply using your hot tub as a restroom. Not only is this an annoyance for the person who has to drain and clean the tub, it is also terrible for the frogs and many do not live after taking a plunge into your hot tub.

Our hot tub expert Kaisa Williams says:

“If your hot tub water is properly balanced and treated, frogs will find the water less attractive, and therefore be less likely to inhabit it.”

 Wasps and Bees
WaspsHornetsBees

During the warmer months of the year wasps & hornets will try to find a source of water. Unfortunately once wasps establish a source of water (such as your hot tub) they will continue to return. Read more about how to get rid of wasps and bees around your hot tub.

 

Slugs

Slug These slimy creatures are more of a foe than friend since they can be damaging to gardens. They like to find their way into hot tubs, due to the slugs loving moist and shady areas. They are more active at night when it is cool and damp, but can be seen during the day hiding in cool, shaded sites. While spas are warmer, the wet conditions are preferable to them than the summer’s dry and warm air.

Ants

anttunnels

Carpenter ants can become a detrimental pest to your hot tub cabinet. Ants choose to take over hot tubs for a number of the reasons listed above. Carpenter ants nest in spa insulation, use the moisture for sustenance, and can also destroy the wood of your hot tub cabinet or deck as they create tunnels. If your hot tub cabinet is well maintained, ants will be less likely to occupy it as they tend to be more attracted to wet or rotting wood.

 

Prevention

To avoid potential nightmares, these simple preventative steps can be taken:

citronella3

  • Make sure there is nothing around your hot tub area that that could provide sustenance for pests.
  • Inspect your hot tub regularly. Make sure any gaps are sealed and that there are no openings allowing for easy entry into the cabinet of your tub.
  • If you have an air tight hot tub cover, critters like frogs or bees are less likely to be able to squeeze through and get into your tub.
  • If your hot tub water is properly maintained, these pests may be less likely to call your hot tub home.
  • Citronella candles can also be a good source for keeping bugs and other pests away.
  • Copper is an effective barrier for slugs and can be found in strips or tape at your local garden supplier. Apply copper wire or tape along bottom of your hot tub to deter these slimy creatures.

If you’ve discovered any of these pests around your tub, first see what you can do yourself to solve the problem. If things get out of hand, be sure to call an expert in the area of pest removal.

Sources:

http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/ipm/msg0223494410589.html http://www.riversapart.co.uk/hottub.html http://www1.extension.umn.edu/garden/insects/find/carpenter-ants/ http://www.drbug.ca/insects/critters_hot_tub.php

http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/insects/find/slugs/

23 comments

  1. Hi J, Thank you for your comment. Bug Bombs are usually intended for much larger areas than the cabinet of your spa. I would recommend using other methods of pest removal such as sprays, or pellets. Thank you, Mark The Spa Depot

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  2. How can I keep little green frogs from getting into our hot tub? We do not have an airtight cover for the tub. I just drained it and scrubbed it down with bleach, I hate to think my efforts might be in vain as soon as we put the cover back on…. Any ideas?

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  3. Hi Kenza, Thank you for your question! To keep small frogs out of your tub I would suggest replacing your current cover with an air tight cover. This will save you money in the long run, eliminating the need to frequently drain and refill your tub, as well as on chemicals. I would also make sure your water is properly balanced and maintained, and remove anything from your hot tub area that could be providing a habitat like space for the frogs. If you have any further questions about getting a replacement spa cover, or how to keep those pesky frogs out of your tub, please feel free to give us a call: (800)-823-3638 M-F 8-5 Pacific. Thanks, Bonni The Spa Depot

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  4. I have a in ground hot tub. Just recently when I turn the air jets on that are on the to of the hot tub, water comes out. There use to be air coming out which controls the pressure of the in tub air shets. Why is water coing out now instead of air? Should the air control body be replaced?

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  5. Hi Garret,
    Thank you for your comment.
    Broken jets as well as having the spa too full can cause this problem.
    Our technical support specialists Mark or Ryan would like to help you troubleshoot this issue. Please give us a call at your convenience: 1-800-823-3638
    We are happy to help!
    Thanks,
    Kaisa
    The Spa Depot

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  6. we are purchasing a hot tub and have been preparing the area. it’s a flat concrete pad and we have stone pavers sand set on top of the pad. I removed the section of pavers to expose the concrete pad for the future home of the hot tub. there are a million bajillion sugar ants! I am concerned they are going to set up home in the tub once it comes. Can sugar ants cause damage to a hot tub? it seems like they are going to go nuts to get in it all warm and snug and wet…especially in the winter. should I not buy the tub? is there a way to prevent them getting in? if they do get in, will they gum up the hot tub innards? The hot tub salesguy does not seem to be concerned but I’m not sure how it’s not going to be a problem.
    Thanks!

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  7. Hi Dakota,
    Thank you for your comment. This is actually a fairly common problem and there is a solution!
    What you’re probably experiencing are Odorous House Ants. Tiny black ants that build multiple nests in and around homes.
    I have had a problem with these myself and have spent several hundred dollars over the years having an exterminator spray the premises. However, they always just came back a few weeks or months later.
    I have found that the Hot Shot Ant Bait Stations (comes in an 8 pack for $5.99 at Walgreens) are highly effective and long lasting.
    http://www.walgreens.com/store/c/hot-shot-maxattrax-ant-bait-value-pack/ID=prod6237560-product?ext=gooHousehold_PLA_Indoor_Pest_Control_prod6237560_pla&adtype=pla&kpid=sku6204588&sst=1850b016-2054-b8e8-62c2-00002746cd3f&kpid=sku6204588
    You do have to replace the bait station every month or so, until all of the ants are gone. You can place these inside the spa cabinet and/or around the perimeter. I use tape on the corners to secure mine to the ground.
    I hope this is helpful. Please let me know if you have any additional questions.
    Thanks,
    Kaisa
    SpaDepot.com

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  8. Hi I was wondering why my breaker keeps tripping. My spa worked earlier and then the breaker tripped and now it won’t stay on. I have replaced my heater element and have had a pump leak repaired. My control panel is new as well. I did notice a baby mouse barely a week old outside my hot tub. The repair guy said it was definitely a home for them. How do I figure out what is going on with my breaker tripping issue?

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  9. Hi Tina,
    Thank you for your comment. At this point it is best to have a professional come and disconnect each component, including the heating element, until the breaker stops tripping. This will be the easiest way to pinpoint the cause of the problem (probably a chewed wire somewhere).
    To deter mice in the future, close up any openings at the bottom of your spa cabinet. Some people also report success using fabric softener dryer sheets to deter mice. You just place these inside the spa cabinet (but away from any electrical components). Supposedly the scent is undesirable to rodents.
    I hope this is helpful. Please let me know if you have any additional questions.
    Thank you,
    Kaisa
    SpaDepot.com

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  10. Hi, I have ants in my drained hot tub. I rinsed it out and sprayed them with white vinegar.I put ant traps around the outside of the tub and sprayed the around the outside with ant spray. What can use to clean the tub with and kill the ants as to not harm my tub. Thanks Diane

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  11. Wasps keep coming around my hot tub. I have taken off the cover and I can’t see a nest. I have sprayed with raid and then also used the hose but they seem to come back. Any suggestions?

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  12. Hi Rhonda,
    Thank you for your post.
    The wasps are likely looking for water. This is a fairly common problem. I recommend setting out a wasp trap or two, like this: http://www.amazon.com/Rescue-W%C2%B7H%C2%B7Y-Hornets-Yellow-jackets/dp/B001H1GRPI/ref=pd_sim_86_9?ie=UTF8&refRID=0ZY6DJ8YTB644RCW6WB6
    These will attract and trap wasps.
    The wasps likely have a couple of nests nearby. If you can locate those and destroy them, that will really help as well.
    I hope this is helpful. Please let me know if you have any additional questions.
    Thank you,
    Kaisa
    SpaDepot.com

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  13. We seem to have what look like pith ants underneath cover to hot tub and around the top of the tub. Why would we have them and how do you get rid of?

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  14. Hi Becky,
    Hot tubs are an attractive home for ants, with warm, enclosed cabinets and plenty of water to drink. Clean the tub and cover with a hose to get any visible ants off, then set ant traps around the base of the cabinet.
    Thank you,
    Sarah
    SpaDepot.com

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  15. I constantly have slugs getting into my hot tub. What can I do? Also I’m really short on cash right now and I will for awhile can I use a green cloth tarp on top of my hot tub? Our dog jumped on it and dug through it. Or do you have any suggestions. I tried one of those blue tarps and it disintegrated. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Hi Patricia,
    A good place to start is by testing your water to be sure that all sanitizer levels are within the appropriate range. If your spa is properly sanitized, the water will be less attractive to the slugs.
    A green cloth tarp may work as a substitute cover for a short period of time, but you will be accruing excessive expenses to heat your tub, as most of the heat will be lost through the tarp.
    In the long run, it will cost you less to invest in a tight fitting and durable spa cover. This will also keep the slugs out!
    Please let me know if you have any further questions.
    Thank you,
    Bonni
    SpaDepot.com

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  17. Hello we’ve been having some trouble recently with draining our hot tub. The valve in which we put the hose to drain the hot tub goes in is clogged! We suspect it is a nice problem as there may be a nest down there. The valve goes to the lake as we are on a lake house. Please tell us how to solve the clog.

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  18. Hi Cole,
    With this type of clog I would recommend you hire a technician to come take a look. It is likely that the drain will have to be replaced, and this is best done by a professional spa technician.
    Thanks,
    Bonni
    SpaDepot.com

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  19. Have had terrible problem with ants IN my hot tub- finally discerned they were coming out when I had the air jets open on each seat- one in particular….we finally took off the back panel which had never been removed and there was tons of built up ?mud like little piles on the inside of the wood panel (not dug out tunnels) but I finally notiiced that each seat’s air intake has a large bore plastic open ended tube facing toward the ground and I’m fairly certain they were crawling up and living in that air hose esp when I inadvertently left that air turned off as I often only open half the cover to sit in one seat alone.

    My husband and I had obviously already treated the outside of the tub extensively with “barrier” or instant kill sprays by the gallon but had yet to put any Terro bait inside the cabinet or around it. We used pantyhose cut in sections to cover each tube (so both side of leg or two layers over each tube held on tight by a zip tie)…he didn’t want sticky residue on tubing and assured me it was tight enough to keep ants from crawling under…
    I use a natural enzyme/cocount oil etc. based product called Natural Spa as well as Sphagnum moss packs in my filter cover area to prevent the formation of a biofilm after flushing out hot tub wtih SpaFlush fully rinsing all pipes and filling with filtered water- it’s the best system and only have to use beach or chlorine once after fill and once it’s no longer able to be smelled (and detected by test- about 3 days) we add in the Natural Spa and add a bottle around every 2 months- changing both moss packs then too. I “shock” it with MPS if not in use for awhile or if using daily a few times a week at most usually but had to shock and add chlorine again to kill the damn things- I”d put “jet 1” on and run for a few seconds, turn off and poof- tons of ants- many of which were alive on top of water- some drowned underneath…I”d spend hours repeating this process (OCD much?! ;-)haha) and get SO frustated. Have been running all jets/features repeatedly and then swapping out filter and rinsing the carcasses out and have FINALLY gotten it down to where I can make a few passes and then get in without being freaked out- last time didn’t have to skim while IN the tub but it’s ruining my comfort level and willingness to get out there as much as I need to- of course it’s more enjoyable when it’s cold out but can’t stand there long in my robe skimming first!;-) Neighbors must think I’m nuts as I”ll clean and clean and then not get in for what felt like months!

    ANY other ideas…my husband is out of town so I can’t take cover off myself back there- much harder to replace than the front one which is meant to come off….but we did put lots of terro bait along the “channels” and lips/edges of the wood on the side and I keep putting bait under that back of the deck- the hot tub is built into the three level deck – with those levels converging at the corner of tub and making it easy to climb over side to enter tub from top level but you step down off back and there is a wood 2X6 plank running along the back and far side which is about a foot off the ground. He put in conrete ?pilings to support the hottub when he built the whole thing. Shouldn’t have any major contact with moisture on a regular basis though we have had some flooding that came up very close to level of hot tub with one hurricaine many years ago but I think the tub was replaced due to warranty issue since then.

    Write ALL this as a plea for ANY further tips/advice and to help any other poor soul who is dealing with the same issue- you are NOT nuts!!! I repeat- this DOES happen!!! 😉 Sucks as you can’t just treat those ants as you wouldn’t want those chemicals IN your tub! Obviously I care what I soak in based on my maintenence. Btw- I switched back to Natural Spa from his other choice Mineral Spa due to this problem as I had to drain my water early and knew I may have to use chlorine and the Mineral Spa lasts close to a year before you have to flush/drain and start over so it’s rather pricey and the other I can start ‘fresh” each time I add a new bottle of Natural Spa….not any worse- most cumbersome part of whole system is just keeping up with your filters as they do the work! That’s why I have at least two good ones at all times to not have to wait- just swap and clean at my convenience. Want to use my spa before summer comes and makes it a whole lot less enjoyable! (or helpful- with hot temps for my Fibro and bad arthritic back)

    Happy hunting… but thanks for making me realize it could be so much worse and worry about all the other critters out there- our cover is a couple years old and still nice and snug and sealed….
    Thanks,
    Holly

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  20. Hi Holly,

    Wow, what a story! I’m so sorry you have had such a hard time getting rid of those pesky ants!

    I know draining can be costly, but you might try running System Flush through your hot tub. If all the routes the ants were using to get into the tub are closed off, this should clear out the remaining ants, alive or dead.

    In your case I would add the System Flush the night before draining to give it plenty of time to work it’s magic. Drain and clean the next day, and your plumbing should be ant free.

    Thanks,
    Sarah
    SpaDepot.com

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  21. Only now noticing your reply ;-)…We DO use system flush EVERY time we drain…I leave it overnight and run as directed as often as possible until draining at some point the next day so it’s almost two days…Don’t have much trouble with any hard residue etc. when I’m using the moss pacs…
    I DID (knock on wood as we’ve had a lot of rain lately which has all the criters out and about 😉 haha) get rid of the ants- ended up using essentially what the pro’s would bring out and fighting those little ..well those little buggers 😉 in an all out war! 😉 Unfortuantely though, all that non- use due to this fight and to other unrelated issues got my water out of wack- still able to avoid another flush thus far- pretty much just super shocked it with Chlorine and then when that is gone, potassium (non cholorine) shock and eventually when no smell and water clear, a new bottle of Natural Spa and new Moss packs. Can’t wait- almost there- water is crystal clear and back to normal- no more smell or any issues…Thanks for reading my novella 😉 and advice- people should for SURE use system flush each time they drain…even with a new hot tub- one of the dirtiest ones with most scummy foam was when replacement hot tub was brand new- guess it really gets nasty after they wet test and leave it with water in the plumbing for varied amounts of time depending on sale etc.
    Love your prices and will continue to be a customer for filters etc. except what you don’t carry- the Natural Spa and the Moss…trust me- I get looks like “huh..??” but what can I say- it works!! (also using a filter on hose to fill after flushing and to my husband’s dismay even back flushing each seat and getting it ALL out- squeaky clean! ;-)haha

    Thanks again,
    Holly

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