Spiders are a vital part of the ecosystem around your home, so if you see them in the garden, leave them be and appreciate their work. But if you don't enjoy their presence in your home and you don’t want to use toxic insecticides to deal with them (especially if you have children), you need options. While serious pest infestations should be dealt with by a professional, you will probably have to deal with some spider issues at some point. Here are some ideas for natural spider control in the home. I’d love to hear what has worked (or hasn’t worked) for you!
1. Use caulk: If spiders can’t get into your house, you won’t need to deal with them. One vital anti-spider step is to thoroughly seal up your house. Remember that spiders can fit through very small holes, so seal any gaps around windows, doors or plumbing and electrical entry points to the house with caulk. If you have a basement, especially in older houses, take special care to search for entry holes. (At our house, our basement is by far our biggest problem.)
2. Repair window screens: Repair any holes in window screens, and use insect screens to fill chimneys and vents.
3. Look under your door: Some spiders especially like to enter under the front door, so installing a simple draft excluder can help prevent them from entering here (plus, they make heating or cooling your house more efficient).
4. Clear out around the house: Spiders love a lot of shrubs and plants, so trimming trees and shrubs that are close to the roof or siding can be helpful. Also consider not planting groundcover plants close to the house because they are ideal for spiders. Use a broom to knockout webs under eaves and around the house.
5. Keep a tidy house: While even the cleanest houses can be prey to spiders, spiders love clutter because it creates great hiding spots. Keeping a picked-up house can give spiders fewer hiding places. Knocking out any webs, and vacuuming any spiders and eggs (or removing them to the great outdoors) can also be helpful.
6. Remove the prey: Since spiders need bugs to survive, removing the prey (flies, fruit flies, etc.) from the house could be helpful in discouraging some spiders from moving in.
7. Essential oils: There are many recipes for homemade bug deterrent sprays that use essential oils. Popular ingredients include tea tree, peppermint, and citrus. However, if you have children and/or pets in the house, make sure whatever oils you use are safe for them. Cats are especially vulnerable to essential oils.
Here are a couple examples:
9. Catnip oil (or plants): In one university study (pdf), catnip oil was found to repel spiders. Using catnip oil around entry points and doors and windows, or perhaps planting catnip around your house could be helpful in deterring spiders.
10. Chestnuts: Some people in the Midwest and the United Kingdom swear that horse chestnuts scattered near points of entry make all the difference, but this might just be an old wives' tale. Take this one with a grain of salt — or better yet, try it and see what happens.
11. Tobacco: Others find success using tobacco leaves as a deterrent. One commenter on DollarStretcher.com swears by the use of this tobacco mixture: “Get a package of pipe or chewing tobacco, soak it in a gallon of boiling water until it cools. Strain the liquid into a clean container. Put a cup of tobacco juice and 1/2 cup lemon dish soap into a hose-end sprayer and spray. I did this at our house two years ago and have been practically spider-free since. This works on all kinds of bugs. I thank Jerry Baker, the Master Gardener, for the tip since we were literally being taken over by spiders."
What about traps
12. Nontoxic sticky traps: Sticky traps placed in strategic places around the house can help catch some types of spiders. Throw these devices away and replace once you have caught a couple of spiders.
13. No-kill spider-catching device: If you don’t want to actually kill the spider, but hate trying to balance a moving spider on a piece of newspaper, this device is for you.
Related on MNN.com: