When we first moved into our house over five years ago, we had a BIG spider problem. Specifically, we had a brown recluse problem–one of only two types of spiders in North America that are extremely harmful to humans (a word of warning: don’t google brown recluse bites unless you plan on not eating for about 48 hours). We also had a few mice in our house when we first moved here (yes, I pretty much freaked out and wanted to move back to our old house the first month we were here). The only reason I found out we had a problem with brown recluse spiders is because of the sticky traps that were originally set out to catch any lingering mice caught some spiders as well. One day, I happened to pick up a glue trap and was curious to see what type of spiders were stuck on there. Sure enough, a quick google search informed me they were brown recluse. Again, I freaked. My husband insisted that spiders are not a reason to move. We still have yet to agree on this statement. :)
I have done tons of research on spiders and the most effective ways to get rid of them. Time and again, I have read that sprays (like what you buy at a home improvement store) don’t work well on spiders and especially on brown recluse because of their long, thin legs. Unless they lick the bottoms of their feet, they will not get the poison on them.
We have also had 3 different pest control companies since we have been at this house. We have very few problems with any pests except for the brown recluse spiders (and mosquitos, of course). I have studied the receipts and asked lots of questions of the pest control guys over the years and we have recently decided to take care of our own pest control needs (for the time being, anyway), as many of the products I insisted on (because they were safe for our family) are the same products that we can purchase ourselves.
Before I share our tips, I must preface that I am not an expert. I am just a mom who wants to protect her family (and someone who really hates spiders in the first place). The information I share with you is based on my inquiries and research, but be sure that you research for yourself and always follow instructions on any products you apply.
To limit contact and get rid of hiding places for spiders (specifically brown recluse spiders), first do the following:
- Declutter. The more stuff you have, the more places the spiders can hide. Brown recluse spiders especially like cardboard boxes. I can’t stand clutter to begin with, so this is a great reason to make sure things don’t accumulate (although they always end up doing so). :)
- Pick up your clothes. Keep piles of clothes, paper, and other things off of your floor. Brown recluse spiders especially love to nestle in these places. Most often bites occur when someone picks up or puts on a clothing garment where a spider has been hiding.
- Vacuum often: Keep your home clean and free from debris. Clear out any spiderwebs you see around your home.
- Get rid of bedskirts and curtains that touch the ground. We no longer have bedskirts in our home. I have instead started covering the box springs with a fitted sheet. Bed skirts offer the perfect path for spiders to get in your bed. Believe me, I had a brown recluse crawl across my face one morning as I was waking up! Thankfully, it did not bite me! Likewise, brown recluse spiders like to hide in the folds of floor-to-ceiling curtains.
- Seal all openings to your home. Caulk around windows and doors, as necessary. Check all of the openings every 6 months and re-caulk as necessary.
Here are three ways to get rid of spiders naturally:
- Glue Traps: Glue traps are excellent for catching pests, especially spiders and mice (and I’ve even used them for a snake that wound up in our basement–sometimes I feel like we live on Funny Farm). They fold up in a box (so you won’t accidentally get one stuck to the bottom of your foot) and can be placed discreetly behind furniture up against the baseboards. According to experts, glue traps are the single best way to get rid of your spider population. But be careful when moving them around…brown recluse spiders are said to be able to go without food or water for up to 6 months, so even when they are on the glue board they are most likely still alive.
- Diatomaceous Earth: Diatomaceous Earth is actually a food-grade product that some people take as a supplement…so it is obviously entirely safe to use in your home! It is used on an assortment of pests, including bed bugs, but it is one of the only products that has found to be extremely effective at killing brown recluse spiders. Diatomaceous Earth is best applied using a duster (we purchased this one). It is messy and takes some getting used to applying, but it is especially effective in attics, crawlspaces, closets basements, and inside wall outlets (all the places brown recluse spiders love to hide). Please note: Diatomaceous Earth does not kill brown recluse spiders on contact, rather it takes a while for it take effect.
- Peppermint Oil Spray: I have not used this method myself, but have read that spiders in general do not like peppermint oil. This website suggests mixing peppermint oil and vinegar and spraying it around your doors and windows. There is no known information on whether this is effective for brown recluse spiders, however.
- Essentria Spray: This product is made of plant oil extracts and contains no man made chemicals. It is safe to use indoors and is recommended to be sprayed on all baseboards, door frames, and window frames. Just keep in mind that it does have a strong smell since it is plant-based. Outdoors, you can spray around the foundation. Follow the directions on the packaging- you need to let the spray dry for 30 minutes before allowing your children or pets to have contact with any sprayed surfaces.
We still have some brown recluse spiders. Every now and then I will find one alive. I know there are many more around our house. Nothing will get rid of them completely (apart from burning our home to the ground, that is), but we have far less of a problem than we did before thanks to these measures we have taken.
In addition to all these measures, I also bought a Brown Recluse First Aid Kit to keep on hand in case anyone in our family gets bit. After living here for 5 years, we have not had to use it…but I did give it to a painter who got bit while painting the exterior of our house a few years ago. He had no medical insurance and I was very worried that he would suffer necrosis, as is common with brown recluse bites. I applied the salve as the instructions stated and then gave it to him to continue applying. When he returned the following day, the bite on his leg looked considerably better. Since I told him to keep the kit, I went ahead and ordered another one for us…the reviews on Amazon alone are a testament to this product! This is one of those “worst case scenario” products that I purchase in advance to put my mind at ease if/when someone gets bit. :)
How do you get rid of spiders in your home???