How to Get Rid of Spiders
While spiders are some of the least troubling house pests to have, a fear of spiders drives most homeowners' desire to immediately eliminate their presence.
This guide will teach you how to get rid of spiders and prevent future infestations in your home.
Unlike many household pests and insects, spiders do no permanent structural damage and most do not pose any sort of health threat. Of the thousands of spider species, there are only two that are both aggressive and dangerous to humans: the black widow spider and the brown recluse spider.
Safety: If you suspect you've received a black widow or brown recluse spider bite, seek medical attention immediately.
For the most part, other species of spiders do not bite unless threatened, and their bites are not poisonous, but may cause a skin site reaction in some people.
Spiders can be beneficial in your garden in that they keep the insect population down, especially insects that have the potential to spread diseases, such as mosquitoes, flies, fleas and roaches. In addition, spiders also are known to kill and eat other spiders.
Spiders breed throughout their life cycle and just one spider egg sac can contain anywhere from 100 to 3,000 eggs. If the egg sac hatches inside the house, you may wind up with a population of spiders making themselves at home in your home.
- Common in warm climates
- Frequently found in basements, closets, attics
- Southern: Black with red hourglass on abdomen
- Northern: Black or dark brown with row of spots (red, yellow or white) down the middle of the abdomen
- Painful bite, highly toxic, attacks victim's nervous system
- Symptoms: Present within an hour; severe muscle cramps, abdominal pain, weakness, and tremor; may include nausea, vomiting, faintness, dizziness, chest pain and trouble breathing
- Common in warm climates, especially the southern U.S.
- Frequently found in closets, attics, under sinks, in wood piles, under picnic tables and outdoor sheds
- Tan to dark brown with violin pattern on the back near the head of the spider
- Stinging bite or may not be felt at site; highly toxic, damages victim's cells and tissues
- Symptoms: Present within 8 hours; severe pain at the bite site, severe itching, nausea, vomiting, fever and muscle pain
- Less effective with larger infestations
- Kills on contact
- Easy to use
- Leaves residue
- Indoor and outdoor use
- Slightly higher cost
- Have to reapply more often
Diatomaceous Earth. As with other insects, spiders can be killed with diatomaceous earth (DE). DE kills spiders by lacerating their exteriors and dehydrating them. DE is best used in small, thin layers in hard-to-reach areas like between and at the backs of cabinets. Spreading DE around the exterior of the home will also help prevent spiders from crawling inside.
Safety: Do not apply DE to counters, open or drafty areas or anywhere food is prepared. Apply in thin layers and wipe up any visible residue immediately. Always read and follow label direction for safe use of any pesticide, especially if there are children or pets in your home.
Peppermint oil. Mix 20 drops of peppermint essential oil (not peppermint extract) into a 32-ounce spray bottle filled with water. Spray the mixture in corners, near entrances and along the floorboards around the whole house. You can also shake peppermint oil directly onto cotton rounds and stuff them into crevices where you suspect spider activity. Spiders don't tolerate the smell of peppermint and will avoid every area where it is applied. You can also use eucalyptus oil to the same effect.
Vinegar. Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle and use it to directly spray any spiders you see. Vinegar contains acetic acid which burns the spider upon contact.
Vacuum. To kill one or just a few spiders efficiently, use a vacuum cleaner. Spider physiology is not strong enough to withstand the suction of most vacuum cleaners; the force will throw them against the tube or inner chamber of the machine, killing them almost instantly.
Transportation. If you don't have a strong fear of spiders, it may be more humane to trap the spider in a jar or glass and set them free outside. When you spot a single spider, look at the markings. If it does not appear to be a brown recluse or black widow, pop a container over the spider, and then carefully slide a piece of paper or a note card under the mouth of the container. Covering with your hand, quickly flip over the container so the spider lands at the bottom, and then walk it outside at least 10 feet from your house and let it go.
Safety: Never attempt to pick up a brown recluse or black widow spider. Immediately kill the spider with an aerosol insecticide for spiders.
In order to get rid of spiders, you must take preventative measures to support the effectiveness of your selected treatment methods.
1. Clean vigilantly: Spiders avoid very clean homes because they won't have many undisturbed places to hide out.
- Regularly sweep and vacuum. Be sure to sweep down or vacuum up spider webs and egg sacs whenever you see them.
- Keep food put away in tightly sealed storage containers. This will help eliminate ants, roaches and other pests, which will leave spiders with no food source.
- Pick up and put away clutter. Spiders like to hide in piles of old magazines, dirty clothes, junk and anything else that will provide them cover.
- Use airtight storage bins instead of cardboard boxes for long term storage.
2. Tidy up the landscape:
- Seal up your home to keep spiders from finding their way in through cracks and crevices; cover vents with fine mesh insect screens.
- Apply caulk around wires, cables, faucets, and electrical components that run to the outside.
- Replace or fix torn window screens and caulk up gaps around windows.
- Keep outdoor lights off or switch to yellow sodium vapor lights to keep from attracting other pests that spiders might feed on.
- Remove vegetation within eight feet of the perimeter of your home. Shrubs, trees, and ivy provide shelter for spiders and harbor insects they use for food.
3. Step up insect control: Cut off spiders' main food supply by eliminating other types of insects from your home.