Dear Lifehacker, Recently I have been confronted with a staggering number of various spiders (high levels of rain mean lots of insects and hence lots of spider food). I am not bothered by the majority of spiders, but red backs, funnel webs and other poisonous specimens are a little unnerving. What's the best thing to repel or kill them, other than straight poison from the hardware store or a large boot? Can I use plants or eucalyptus spray or mint or moth balls or something harmless to humans? Thanks, Metebelis Three
Spider picture from Shutterstock
All species of spider have taste receptors in the hairs at the ends of their legs. They will therefore try to avoid pungent or acidic substances upon contact. Some spiders also have a sense of smell, which is primarily used to locate mates by tracking the release of pheromones. In other words, there are at least two 'spidey-senses' that you can target in a bid to keep arachnids away.
Popular natural spider repellents include lemon juice, lavender soap, mint leaves, chestnuts, dish washing liquid, moth balls and various natural oils (peppermint, tea tree, citronella, etc.)
Here's a typical spider spray recipe that we spotted on the US blog 7 Gen:
- Add up to 5 drops of essential oil (lemon is my favorite and spiders detest it) and up to 5 drops of dish washing liquid to 1 qt. of water [around 950ml].
- Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and shake well.
- Spray the mixture on cobwebs, around doors and windows, around the lawn and garden and on any surfaces where spiders lurk. In addition to having a pleasant aroma, this mixture is nontoxic.
- Oils may stain or cause spots, so be sure to test the mixture on a small section of carpet or upholstery before spraying an entire surface.
- Reapply the spray once a week during peak "spider seasons."
There are various other recipes online that follow the same basic principle. We can't vouch for this concoction's success rate as we've never tested it, but a lot of people seem to really swear by it.
Otherwise, your best approach is to act like a wrathful God — destroy their natural habitats (woodpiles, thick plant growth, etc) and demolish every web you can find with a broom. Also be sure to seal off any cracks or crevices around the house to stop them from infiltrating your home.
Just be aware that the spiders in and around your abode are probably keeping the insect population down, so it's probably not a good idea to go completely genocidal.
If any readers have spider-ridding tips of their own, let MT know in the comments section below.
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