Spiders have plenty of benefits, but that doesn't mean they're always welcome guests in your home. Here are some easy ways to keep your home from being a spider's paradise without the need for an exterminator.
Image by Nick Criscuolo.
You probably don't want to hear this, but most spiders are great for their environments. Yes, that could mean parts of your home too. They eat other nasty pests like earwigs, flies, and moths, as well as pests that can transmit disease like mosquitoes and cockroaches. Rod Crawford, the author of Spider Myths, explains that there are even spiders that will eat other not-so-friendly spiders. The long-legged cellar spider, or "daddy longlegs," for example, has been known to kill black widows. That sounds like a great ally to have in your basement or garage to me. There are spiders out there that can be dangerous, however, and they do have a tendency to find their way into places we don't want them to be -- like the (cringing as I type this) bedroom.
If you have older family members, young children, or pets that are in poor health, it's better to be safe than sorry and keep these scary critters outside. Keeping spiders away also brings the peace of mind that nothing will crawl over your face while you sleep tonight -- and that's priceless. Your home is your sanctuary. That being said, no harm will come from letting that "daddy longlegs" chill in the corner of your garage. That's just Joe; he's on guard duty.
Keep Clutter from Building Up
If you've ever needed a reason to finally declutter your home, now you have one. Spiders are crafty creatures that like to lurk in the shadows of your clutter. There's probably one watching you right now. If you want to keep them out of your home, you need to make sure you're not giving them a comfy home to begin with. Adrienne Breaux at Apartment Therapy suggests you declutter your home of any random piles books, clothes, shoes, papers, toys, or anything else that might accumulate in a pile somewhere.
Other bugs (aka spider food) like to hang out around clutter too. Cut off the food supply, and spiders are lot less likely to stay. Get rid of the things you don't need and organise what you want to keep in storage containers. Sealable plastic containers are best, because they can keep spiders and spider food out more effectively. Lastly, it helps to dust and vacuum your home regularly.
Secure Your Home's Perimeter
Spiders really love piles of stuff outside as well. Sarah Littleton at BobVila.com recommends you move any non-essentials from the immediate perimeter of your home to somewhere further away. Using a couple suggestions from Littleton, we've compiled a checklist of other typical halfway houses that can increase the likelihood of spiders and spider food getting inside:
- Piles of leaves
- Stacks of firewood
- Compost bins
- Overgrown trees and shrubs
- Uncut lawns
- Stacks of boxes
- Patches of weeds
Move your firewood stack further away, trim the vegetation around your home, and rake up leaves and other dead plant matter. Again, this also helps cut off the food supply so the spiders will want to go elsewhere. There's nothing wrong with having spiders in your yard or garden (it's good for it!), but you want to have a clear separation of where your yard ends and where your home begins.
Clear Out Webs Inside and Near Outside Entryways
Spiders hate to have their home disturbed. Just like any other creature, the less they have to do to survive, the better. If you keep wrecking their home, they will assume the area is unsafe and try to go somewhere else. The Guardian recommends you grab a broom or long stick and go hunting for webs. Take out any you find in your home and garage, as well as any you find around the outside of your doors and windows you plan on opening.
Do not, however, go overboard and start clearing out spider webs everywhere in your yard and garden. Remember, you do want them to go somewhere. If you make every area around your home inhospitable, they will probably stay right where they are and keep rebuilding.
Reduce Your Outdoor Lighting
Bugs hang around lights at night because it provides warmth. Spiders go where there are bugs to munch on. That's why Kristi Roddey at SF Gate suggests you keep your outdoor lighting to a minimum. Set your outdoor lights to shut off at a certain time, or only keep them on at main entryways. The less light drawing in bugs, the less interest spiders will have in your home.
Drive them Away with Home Remedies or Pesticides
If you have some trouble spots in your home, you have a few options when it comes to deterrents. If you'd like to avoid the use of pesticides, peppermint oil and vinegar have been known to keep spiders away. Mix ½ cup of vinegar with 1 ½ cups of water, then add about 20 drops of peppermint essential oil. Spray the mixture along entryways or any other trouble spots you have in your home. If you don't have any peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil can work too.
If you're ready for the heavy artillery, most home improvement stores carry pesticides that can kill spiders on contact, and leave behind a residue that keeps them away. When nothing else works, they probably will.