Home Pests and diseases How to keep spiders out of your home

How to keep spiders out of your home

Horse chestnut
Horse chestnut deterrent

Old-fashioned deterrents for eight-legged freaks

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.

Too many legs and eyes – Shelob guards the cucamelons

Keeping your home spider-free

  • 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.
Tea tree and eucalyptus oil
Tea tree and eucalyptus oil are supposed to deter spiders too

Traditional deterrents

These are very much the same as for ants:

  • 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 must kill them (I judge you not)

If can’t take them outside or deter them, there are other methods, albeit rather harsh:

  • 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 thought 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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