Spiders: traditional deterrents

Keeping Shelob out of your home

Too many legs and eyes – Shelob guards the cucamelons

They’re great for the garden, I know, but as a former arachnophobe*, I still dread that fleeting movement you see out of the corner of your eye when sitting with a glass of wine trying to watch Modern Family.

Why do they come indoors? Mainly, it’s for a place to live- it is warm and dry and there are dark corners where they won’t be disturbed.

Also, many males search for a mate.

They’re most likely to be found in kitchens, bathrooms, and basements where it’s moist.

So how do you keep them out? Here are a few ideas to keep your home spider-free.

Sending a shiver down the spine…
  • Keep clutter to a minimum, so there are fewer places for them to hide. Piles of dirty washing and newspapers are a favourite hiding place.
  • Bits of food attract pests, like ants, which will attract spiders, so wipe down surfaces, vacuum regularly and don’t leave dirty dishes lying around.
  • Seal up cracks, holes, and gaps in doors and windows and cover vents with mesh.
  • Remove plants and debris from the side of your house, including climbers like ivy if you have a problem. When it gets cooler, they might try to move inside.
  • Outdoor lights attract other pests and a food source for spiders, so keep them to a minimum. Use opaque blinds or curtains indoors.

Traditional remedies include (very much the same as deterrents for ants):

Horse chestnut
Horse chestnut deterrent
  • Putting conkers/horse chestnuts in corners or anywhere you see activity.
  • Spray cracks, corners, and entrances with dilute peppermint, eucalyptus or tea tree oil (undiluted will ruin your furnishings). Fill a 1-litre spray bottle with water and add 20 drops of peppermint oil. You can use undiluted peppermint oil on a cotton ball and stuff it into cracks or hiding places.

If you can’t take them outside or deter them, there are other methods:

Tea tree and eucalyptus oil
Tea tree and eucalyptus oil are supposed to deter spiders too
  • Scatter a fine layer of diatomaceous earth (powder made from naturally-formed fossils of a tiny water creature) around cracks, corners, windows, and basements. It’s safe for people and pets. Unpleasantly, when a spider crosses it, its exoskeleton gets cut up and it dries out and dies.
  • Some people swear by mixing equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Apply it to likely areas or directly on a spider. Vinegar contains acetic acid, which burns and kills spiders upon contact. The vinegar smell is though to repel them.

*I once stayed in a converted barn on holiday in Ross-on-Wye with bare stone walls, with loads of massive spiders. So horrified was I that one night, I dreamed a giant spider was crawling over the bedclothes. I ran away, still asleep, only my brain thought I was home, so I ran into a small carved chair at full pelt, denting my shin bone. I still have the scar.

I have tried to overcome this, as I didn’t want the kids to have me as an example. It worked with Nick, not with Vanessa – are fears genetic?

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