The best way to get rid of spiders this autumn

how to get rid of spiders
How to get rid of spidersJenny Dettrick - Getty Images

As the weather gets cooler, the nights draw in and we start dreaming of cosy evenings in front of the fire, it’s also when we start to notice more eight-legged visitors in our homes.

For many people, spiders in the house are little more than an inconvenience swiftly captured and returned to the garden. However, for 18% of Brits who are arachnophobes*, this time of year can be nail-bitingly stressful. And even if you don’t have a full-blown phobia, the sight of a big spider scuttling across a room can still be startling.

Spiders have a bad reputation, but if you allow a few to live in your home they can provide quite a good pest control service. Spiders will feast on other, arguably less-desirable pests such as clothes moths, mosquitos, silverfish and flies, which actually makes them quite desirable house guests.

But, if you’re not convinced about keeping them around, we asked two spider experts how we can make our homes less inviting to these leggy creatures – you might be surprised by what they had to say...

how to get rid of spiders
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Eight-legged housemates

Contrary to popular belief, spiders don’t invite themselves into our homes in the autumn in search of a warm place to spend the winter. This might make disturbing reading for spider-haters, but the chances are our eight-legged friends are in residence year-round.

"The truth is that there are spiders living in our houses all the time," explains Lawrence Bee, spider expert and member of the British Arachnological Society. "We just might not see them often as they tend to stay out of the way in darker corners and under floorboards."

The reason they have a higher profile around the house come September is that this is when spiders become more active as they search for a mate.

Dave Clark, Head Keeper of Invertebrates at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), which runs London Zoo, adds: "Males, in particular, are wandering about looking for females to mate with – especially male house spiders, which are the ones with the very long legs. These males won't live through the winter so need to try and find as many females to mate with before they die."

Ditch the conkers and essential oils

Conkers may make for a nice autumnal decoration, but contrary to common belief, they're unlikely to ward off spiders.

"There is no scientific evidence whatsoever that putting out conkers will deter spiders," says Lawrence Bee. "In fact, back in 2010, the Royal Society of Chemistry awarded a prize to a group of schoolchildren who managed to disprove the old wives’ tale that conkers contain a substance that spiders dislike."

Similarly, there is no scientific proof to support the idea that essential oils such as peppermint, tea tree or lavender will keep spiders away. However, if it makes you feel better spritzing your house with a spray made by adding a few drops of essential oil to water, go for it. At least your home will smell delightfully fresh!

how to get rid of spiders
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Clean smarter

Don't fear: there are things you can do to make your home less attractive to Incy Wincy and his pals. As well as staying on top of web removal when you dust, pest control company Rentokil suggests paying special attention to sheltered, dark places such as underneath kitchen units, the backs of cupboards and under or behind large furniture. If a spider can’t construct a decent web, it won’t be able to catch prey as effectively and may move on to try its luck elsewhere.

GHI Tip: Investing in a good cobweb brush with a telescopic handle means you’ll have no trouble tackling cobwebs in hard to reach spots.

You should also keep garden waste bags, firewood piles and any other clutter away from your house to reduce the number of spider-friendly havens just outside your windows and doors. But if you do have a log burner or an open fire in the house, it’s highly likely you’ll bring spiders inside when replenishing your wood basket.

Catching a spider

If you do cross paths with an unwelcome eight-legged guest in your home, ZSL’s Dave Clark recommends using the ‘cup and card’ tactic to trap the spider and release it outside.

"Our eight-legged friends are incredibly valuable ecologically in keeping the number of pest insects like flies down, and therefore helping control human diseases," he explains. If getting close enough to a spider to trap it fills you with fear, check out the Friendly Spider Programme run by ZSL, which claims to have an 86% success rate in turning spider-squashers into arachnid appreciators.

GHI Tip: If brandishing a glass and attempting to catch a spider is a task that sends shivers down your spine, there are plenty of spider catching devices that you can use to catch and release a spider whilst keeping it at arm’s length.

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