While you should want a healthy spider population outside, it is reasonable to assume any spiders inside the home will be unwanted guests.
1. Spiders are good guys! Sometimes they end up in the wrong place, however, keep in mind that they are amazing predators of pest insects. Believe it or not spiders consume far more insects in the yard than do birds. Worldwide, spiders eat enough insects in one year to equal the weight of the entire population.
2. Spiders may enter houses and other structures through cracks and openings. Therefore, seal buildings with caulk, screening and weatherstripping to keep your eight-legged friends outside.
3. To prevent spiders from entering the home, hang hummingbird feeders outside. Hummingbirds eat an enormous amount of spiders and will reduce chemical usage.
4. Tip: Cats are another deterrent for spiders.
5. For people who choose to use commercial sprays on spiders, keep in mind that the spider will only be destroyed if the spray lands directly on it. The spray does not have a long-lasting residual effect. This means a spider can walk over a sprayed surface within hours and not be affected. Instead of destroying a spider it is quite easy to capture the arachnid into a jar and release it outside.
6. An alternative to commercial spray is a combination of bleach and dishwashing liquid i. e. Ivory dish soap. Keep this spray away from plants.
7. Tip: Prevent spiders from making their home in plants: mix together 1 part dishwashing liquid to 10 parts water. Spray plants.
8. Put insect glue boards in areas where spiders might be found i. e. behind toilets, under sinks, behind fridges, washer, water heater, in attic. This is available at hardware stores.
9. Tape or seal boxes, especially in storage areas such as basements and garages.
10. Regular vacuuming or sweeping of windows, corners of rooms, storage areas, basements and other areas helps deter spiders and their webs.
11. Scrub-a-dub-dub you’ve got a spider in the tub. While some people think that spiders enter through the overflow, others disagree. Since the overflow connects to the drainpipe before it gets to the trap, the spider would have to get through the trap to get to the overflow. It seems more likely that they fall into the bathtub and can’t get out.
12. Outdoor lighting attracts insects, which in turn attracts spiders. Keep lights off when not in use. Also, sweep, mop, hose or vacuum (regularly) building walls away from windows and doors.
13. For homes with an uncontrollable infestation of spiders, consult a professional. Sorptive dust (containing diatomaceous earth or amorphous silica gel) is applied to cracks and crevices in attics, walls, voids and other enclosed areas. Use this as a last resort.
14. Spider bites. If this occurs, relieve local swelling and pain by applying an ice pack, ammonia or alcohol directly to the bite area. In case of severe reaction, consult a doctor immediately and if possible; take along the spider for identification. Specific antivenin is available to treat some widow spider bites.
15. Remove spiderwebs with a broom. There are a few products on the market formulated to destroy spiderwebs. One example is Cobweb Eliminator, 100 per cent natural, non-toxic spray that breaks down old webs and discourages new ones.
16. Pennyroyal oil from the pennyroyal plant is a natural pesticide. Leave a cotton ball soaked with the oil to discourage spiders. Pennyroyal oil can be purchased at health and pet stores.
17. Cedar oil also repels spiders. Rub the oil along baseboards or leave in closets and damp, musty areas.
18. Tip: Sprinkle orange peels in areas that tend to attract spiders; they don’t like the smell.
19. Set out bowls of cloves and broken chestnuts around the kitchen; they don’t like the smell.
20. If you have wooden window sills, you can clean them with Pledge; (spiders don’t like that smell either).
Spider trivia: The construction of a spiderweb is beautiful and intricate, yet can easily be destroyed by heavy rain or human interference. Spiderwebs are the strongest of all structures in the world (including man-made). Inch for inch a spiderweb is stronger than steel.
Reena Nerbas is the author of the national bestsellers, Household Solutions 1 with Substitutions, Household Solutions 2 with Kitchen Secrets and the soon-to-be released book Household Solutions 3 with Green Alternatives available online and in stores across Canada. She graduated as a home economist from the University of Manitoba and speaks professionally on the subject of fixing life’s messes by using products behind everyone’s cupboard doors. As well as being a columnist, Reena can be heard on radio and TV programs across Canada and the U. S. I enjoy your questions and tips; keep them coming! Check out my website: www.householdsolutions.org.