It’s mid-September; prepare for the invasion of the eight-legged freaks!
Does anybody get that reference?
Lucky you. I had the supreme misfortune of seeing that movie in the theater, and I spent hard-earned money to watch that atrocity.
Despite being helpful creatures, spiders have a tendency to get squashed if they make an appearance in homes.
Whether it’s the eight hairy legs or the fact that they have too many beady eyes, spiders usually top the list when it comes to loathed creepy crawlies.
And much to the chagrin of spider-squashers everywhere, as the weather cools and the days grow shorter, all those sun-loving spiders in your garden are packing their bags and heading to the nearest Airbnb – your house.
Except, that’s not quite what’s going on around this time of year.
Despite what you’ve been told, the sudden appearance of spiders in your home around this time of year has nothing to do with arachnids seeking shelter.
If you’re a spider-hater, you might want to sit down for this.
Those spiders you keep seeing in your house from September through October? Yeah, they were already there, and they’ve most likely been there for their entire lives. Your home is their permanent address. They get their Verizon bill sent there; they just get to the mailbox before you do.
And it doesn’t stop there.
The reason you’re seeing these eight-legged roommates so often is that it’s breeding season.
Yup, that’s right, my friends, your home becomes the local pickup joint for spiders from August through October.
The spiders you see moving about are often the males. The females and the wee baby spiders usually stay hidden, away from rolled-up newspaper-wielding humans. The males are moving about your domicile, looking for the love of their life. However short that may be.
It’s kind of fascinating, really; there have been house spiders, meaning species that don’t live outdoors, noted as far back as the Roman times. These species evolved to live inside with humans and are ill-suited to the living conditions found in the great outdoors.
Okay, Tracey, but where do all the outdoor spiders go in the winter?
All those spiders out in your garden, they’re hunkering down in your woodpile, in weeds at the corner of your lawn and in other nooks and crannies that offer shelter.
Spiders are cold-blooded, and most begin to go through a kind of chemical toughening-up before the cold weather, which allows them to survive the freezing winters. They find a spot to hide outside and spend the winter dormant.
This isn’t to say that the occasional wandering spider won’t make its way into your home and decide to stay; rather that it’s not the norm.
I know what you’re thinking, “Great, Tracey, I still don’t like spiders. What am I supposed to do about all the spiders in my house?
How to Keep Spiders Away
Completely ridding your home of all spiders is unlikely; however, you can do some things to give them fewer places to hide and to encourage them to make their appearances few and far between.
1. Keep Things Tidy
Probably not the answer you were hoping for, but this is one of the most effective ways of discouraging spiders from hanging out in the areas of your home where you’re active.
They prefer dark spaces and places where you won’t bother them. If you leave things around for a while, long enough to start gathering dust, chances are it’s going to be prime real estate for a family of spiders.
Clean up clutter, dust often and don’t give spiders a place to hide.
This one might be one of the easiest ways to deal with spiders beyond a rolled-up newspaper. Grab your vacuum cleaner and use it to suck up spiders and their webs. Granted, this only deals with them once they’ve settled in.
3. White Vinegar
White vinegar is made of acetic acid, a substance the is harmful to spiders. Lucky for you, it’s not harmful to us, our kiddos, or our pets. Mix up a solution of water and white vinegar in a spray bottle in a ratio of 1:1 and spray windowsills, doorways, dark corners, even the corners of your ceilings.
The smell of citrus apparently also repels spiders. Save those orange peels and tuck them in your closet corners, gently rub them on windowsills, or place them in any other dark places where a spider might wish to hide.
Of course, you could always put the power of citrus and vinegar together to make an all-natural cleaner that will also have the added benefit of repelling spiders. Cheryl shows you how here – All-Purpose Citrus Cleaner.
Yet another common item, whether the plant or the essential oil that has a strong scent spiders detest.
This spicy bark is more than just a tasty addition to pie. Place cinnamon sticks wherever spiders might lurk to keep them from making themselves at home.
The same can be said of cloves, and their small size makes them perfect for scattering in small spaces where spiders may choose to dwell.
This popular staple in dried flower arrangements from the 80s is making a comeback, and its strong medicinal smell keeps spiders from getting too close. Place long sprigs of eucalyptus around your home and replace them with fresh ones every few months.
9. Get a Diffuser
A great way to keep your home smelling wonderful, enjoy a little aromatherapy and keep spiders from getting cozy at your place is to buy an essential oil diffuser.
While you may not want cinnamon sticks, whole cloves or eucalyptus branches strewn about your home, you can easily reap the same benefits by diffusing the oils into the air. Citrus, peppermint, cinnamon, clove and eucalyptus essential oils are all relatively easy to find and inexpensive.
If the goal is to keep spiders out, you’ll want to be sure you opt for a diffuser that can handle large areas or get one for each room.
Using cedar balls or disks around your home pulls double duty. Not only will cedar repel spiders, but it also keeps moths away too. Protect your beautiful wool sweaters all while keeping Charlotte out of your house too.
11. Horse Chestnut or Conkers
Chestnuts, or as the Brits call them, conkers, are purported to keep spiders away. This one is more anecdotal, so we’ll file it under “It can’t hurt to try.”
Place a few chestnuts on your windowsills and in closets, and let us know if it works.
12. Starve ‘Em Out
Spiders are attracted to food, and food for spiders is flies. Keep fruit flies and houseflies in check by removing any fruit or vegetables starting to go bad.
13. Turn Outside Lights Off
In the same vein, turn outside lights off. Lights attract flying insects, and flying insects attract spiders.
Our local walkway along the creek has beautiful landscape lights to light the way on an evening stroll. Locals will note that there isn’t a single one of these large lights that aren’t home to at least a couple of spiders.
Turn the lights off outside your home, and prevent any spiders from making their way inside.
14. Keep Yard Debris Tidy
Remember all those outdoor spiders and how they like to hide in debris to hunker down for the winter? If you have dead leaves or other landscaping debris piling up around your house, you’re creating the perfect habitat for spiders. Those same spiders may unwittingly find their way into your house.
Keep the area immediately outside your home cleaned up to prevent stowaways.
15. Keep Recycling Outside
Take recyclable items outside as soon as you’ve rinsed them. The sugar in things like empty wine bottles, soda and tin cans attracts flies. And wherever there are flies, spiders soon follow.
16. Osage Oranges or Spider Balls
These strange-looking fruits are said to repel spiders, hence earning them the colloquial name of spider balls. Every fall, they can be found for sale or given away free to place around the inside of your home.
Much like the chestnuts, this is anecdotal, but it’s worth a shot. You should be aware of the fruit secrets a latex that can cause skin irritation in some individuals. Be sure to wear gloves when handling an Osage orange.
House plants that keep spiders away?
While you’ll see plenty of articles around the web with titles that imply there are house plants that keep spiders away, once you click on them, you may be disappointed. Without fail, these articles all point to some common aromatic herbs and flowers that are typically grown outdoors.
- And lavender
To name a few. And while nearly all of these could be grown indoors, they aren’t what the average person typically thinks of as a house plant.
I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether or not you have room for a eucalyptus tree in your home.
Let Them Be
Granted, if you suffer from arachnophobia, this last option may not be one you can tolerate. But for the rest of us, it’s probably the easiest solution to the problem. Just let the spiders carry on doing their thing.
As they tend to avoid humans, they want to see as little of you as possible, too. You can all happily coexist together under one roof. And just think about all the fruit flies and houseflies they will eat. Letting spiders continue doing their thing means they’re earning their keep as useful household members.
I’ll bet your cat can’t even make that claim.
In closing, I leave you with this little fellow, Lucas. He’s a jumping spider, but don’t worry; he just wants to play you a song and be your friend.