How to Get Rid of Spiders
15–18 minutes to read | Updated for 2018
Contrary to what many people think, spiders aren’t actually insects. They actually belong to the family of Arachnids, which also includes scorpions, mites and ticks.
They can be as small as common household insects, or grow as large as the palm of your hand. There are about 40,000 species of spiders worldwide, and North America is home to around 3,000 of them.
Spiders aren’t pests for everyone. They can be beneficial by mitigating the ants, flies, mosquitoes and other pests around the home. But since all spiders have fangs, their bite will usually be worse than a standard mosquito or ant bite even if it isn’t venomous. Bites from poisonous spiders can cause health problems like sores, fever, nausea and even fatality in extreme cases.
Despite the thousands of species, all spiders have several commonalities. They all have eight legs, no antennae or wings, and two main regions of their body. While not all species spin webs, they do all produce silk.
Common Species of Spiders
American House Spider
True to its name, the American house spider, also known as the common house spider, is the species that you’ll usually be dealing with inside your home. Although they are found in North America, they’re also prevalent all over the world.
How To Identify:
1/8” to 5/16”
Ranges from off-white to yellow-brown to black and also has dark spots around their abdomen and legs
Commonly found in the U.S., but also around the rest of the world
Found inside and around homes, in the corners of rooms, under furniture or outside near windows and leaves
The American house spider isn’t poisonous, so its bite will usually only yield common side effects such as mild pain, redness and swelling
You can usually mitigate the amount of house spiders around your property by cleaning up their webs and removing potential hiding spots for them.
Black widows are one of the more infamous types of spiders because of their known venomous bites. While males rarely bite and aren’t toxic, females contain venom that is highly poisonous to humans and their bites will require medical attention.
How To Identify:
Adult black widow spiders can reach 1.5” in length
Black, hairless bodies identifiable by the bright red hourglass shape on their abdomens
Commonly found in the Southern U.S. as well as other temperate regions around the world
A black widow spider bite will initially feel like a regular spider bite, similar to a bee sting, but in about 8 hours you’ll start to experience cramping around the site of the bite, spreading to your back and stomach. Other symptoms of the bite include flulike fever, headache, cold sweats and nausea.
Black widow webs are large and strong. Luckily, they tend to spin their webs in areas where they won’t be disturbed, so it isn’t common for people to come in contact with them.
The brown recluse is another spider known for its venomous bite. These spiders won’t bite unless they feel threatened, but this can actually be a common problem once they venture inside of homes. While it does tend to have a reclusive nature, it can be especially dangerous inside because of its tendency to hide under furniture, within piles of clothing, or inside shoes.
How To Identify:
3/8” to ½”
Can range from a light to dark brown color
Found within the Southern to Western U.S.
Because of its type of venom, a brown recluse bite can cause sores around the site of the bite, thus leading to higher rates of infection. People can have different reactions, but a bite will usually lead to soreness, pain and intense itching around the site, leading to flulike nausea and fatigue. However, many cases of brown recluse bites have been reported to heal up on their own without needing much medical attention.
Brown recluses will usually spin their webs outside on piles of wood, rocks, leaves or other debris, but have also been known to make their way inside of homes and hide in closets, piles of clothes, shoes, and cluttered areas.
The cellar spider, also known as Daddy Longlegs, is one of the species commonly found inside homes. While their legs are characteristically long and spindly, their bodies are so small that their jaws can’t bite onto human skin. Even though they’re venomous spiders, they pose no threat to humans.
How To Identify:
Bodies can reach 7/16”, but their legs can extend 3-4x that length
Ranges from light to dark brown
Found throughout the United States and Canada
While unable to bite humans, cellar spiders are venomous to their prey and will attack anything that makes its way into their web, which are usually common insects.
You can usually find cellar spiders in the unused areas of homes, hence their name. Check in the corners of your rooms, your cellar and attic, as well as under stairs and furniture to see if you have cellar spiders in your house. Since they aren’t a threat, it’s very easy to remove them and bring them outside.
Wolf spiders aren’t venomous to humans, but they can grow bigger than most household spiders and tend to be more frightening because of that. Fortunately, they do their hunting at night and tend to hide during the day. It’s rare for people to come in contact with wolf spiders inside their homes.
How To Identify:
Ranges from 1/8” to 1” in body length
Can range from light tan to brown
Widespread throughout the United States, but found on every continent except Antarctica
Like most other spiders, wolf spiders won’t bite unless they feel threatened or aggravated. Although they aren’t venomous, their bite can be more painful than others because of their size.
Wolf spiders tend to burrow outside under fallen logs, rocks, or other undisturbed places. While they’re rarely found indoors, it can be easy to bring one into the home if you’re bringing in wood or other debris. Be sure to check everything before bringing it in from outside. You should also check periodically under furniture and similar hiding places if you know you live in an area with prevalent wolf spiders.
If you’ve seen spiders crawling around your house, it’s an undeniably unsettling sight.
To find out if you’re dealing with a few spiders here and there or an actual infestation, you’ll need to take several steps for inspection. Especially because of most spiders’ tendency to hide, you’ll need to take it upon yourself to seek them out before developing any treatment strategies.
Gather the Tools You’ll Need
a good flashlight
piece of paper
stick or pencil
Step 1: Use Your Flashlight to Look in Hiding Places
Since so many spider species love to hide or set up their webs in undisturbed places, you’ll need to take some time and look carefully in all the cracks and crevices in your house. The good thing is that even the smallest spiders are easy to spot because of their webs.
Step 2: Carefully Capture the Spider
If you can, try to capture the spider so you can look at it closer and properly identify what species it is. Depending on where the spider is located, you can either sweep it into a clean glass jar or remove it from its web using a stick or pencil.
Step 3: Identify the Species
Once it’s in the jar, you can use your magnifying glass to look closer and see if there are any identifying markings. If you’re unsure, try taking photos of the spider and comparing them to a spider guidebook or online resource.
Step 4: Develop a Plan
Depending on how many spiders you’ve seen and the species you’ve been able to identify, you’ll need to develop an appropriate plan of action. If you’ve only seen one spider and it’s harmless, like a cellar spider, you can usually leave it be or simply carry it outside. However, there are some DIY treatment methods you can use that include traps, poison, and repellent. Going forward, you can also prevent more spiders from entering your home by using simple prevention methods, like cleaning up and reducing clutter.
- If you’re having trouble identifying a spider based on what they look like, try looking at their web. Different species will have a variety of different web styles, including spiral orbs, cobwebs, funnels, tubular and sheet webs. By researching the characteristics of the spider along with their web, you’ll be more likely to make a match.
- Spiders are more likely to come inside your home during colder months in order to seek refuge from the weather.
- Always approach a spider slowly and carefully. A spider will never go out of its way to bite you, but almost all species bite when they feel scared or threatened.
At present, there are about 40,000 species of spiders around the world that have been officially named. Of these, 3,000 species call the United States home. Not many people love spiders, but they serve an extremely valuable purpose. Without them, certain insect populations would quickly overwhelm our homes and ecosystems. In addition, many species of spiders become food for other animals.
Because of this, spotting some spiders outside of your home is completely normal and shouldn’t become a problem for you. But if you’re seeing multiple spiders or egg sacs around your house, garage, garden or entryways, you may have a small infestation which you’ll want to curb before it grows into any larger of a problem.
There are several DIY methods you can use to remove the spiders on your property, prevent new ones from coming into your home, and protect yourself from bites during the process. Note that common spiders found in many homes can cause the most spider bites, but its venom is not considered dangerous. If you’ve identified poisonous spiders making their way inside your home, it’s time to contact a professional as soon as possible.
Given the sheer number of spider species in the United States, keeping them away means a concerted cleaning and removal campaign:
Maintain Your Indoors
- Mop, sweep, and vacuum thoroughly inside your home, including cracks and crevices.
- Remove spider webs from ceilings and walls whenever you spot them.
- Regularly clean your kitchen. Spiders are attracted to other insects, so a dirty kitchen with unkempt spills and waste will not only bring you ants, cockroaches and flies, but they’ll be followed by spiders as well.
- Keep your floors clear of boxes where house spiders might hide, or keep them taped closed.
- Keep clutter to a minimum in your basement, garage and attic.
- If you’re able to kill a spider whenever you see one here or there, be sure to quickly and properly dispose of that carcass so that it won’t attract more spiders or bugs.
- Don’t allow food to be left out, and make sure everything in your fridge and pantry is properly sealed and not giving off an odor. If you have food left out in the open, such as fruits and vegetables, make sure to dispose of them if they begin to rot.
- Take out your indoor trash often and whenever you throw away anything with a strong odor.
Maintain Your Outdoors
- Rake your leaves whenever they’re covering your lawn. Leaf piles can retain moisture and provide the perfect breeding ground for arachnids.
- Situate wood stacks, tree branches, leaves and other clutter well away from your home. They should be in a covered area where they aren’t going to be able to absorb rainwater.
- Mow the lawn on a regular basis so that spiders can’t hide in overgrown grass.
- Trim your trees and bushes if they’re leaning up against the side of your house to cut off an entryway for spiders. Make sure they aren’t so overgrown that they offer shady, moist areas for other bugs to harbor, which then attract spiders.
- Look for, and seal off, any holes, gaps and cracks that spiders might be able to use to get inside your home.
- If you already have a garden, plants herbs that spiders can’t stand so they will steer clear of your home. These include lavender, lemon balm, eucalyptus and mint. If you don’t already have a garden, these herbs are cheap and easy to plant and grow.
- Keep your outdoor trash cans tightly sealed so that they don’t trap any water. Also be sure to wash them out regularly.
Don’t Bring Outdoor Spiders Inside
Whenever you do yard work or spend a long time outside, make sure you shake off your clothing before entering your home. This will allow any small spiders to fall off before bringing them inside to multiply. You can also wipe down your exterior door and window sills to make sure they’re clean and aren’t harboring other small spiders that can make their way inside.
Leave Your Lights Off
While light doesn’t attract spiders, it does attract insects they eat. Both inside and outside, leaving your lights on more necessary will bring a chain of prey and predator that are bound to cause a headache for you, or even a fright.
Prevent Spider Bites
If spiders have already made their way inside your home, you can still use these methods to prevent more spiders from forming while you’re treating the current infestation. However, you’ll want to take additional steps to prevent and treat spider bites. Stay aware of where the spiders tend to congregate inside your home and take steps to remove the number of hiding places they can use to set up shop:
- Spiders like dark, moist areas, such as under your kitchen and bathroom sink. You can place moisture absorbers there, or continually keep those areas neat and organized so that the spiders don’t have any places to hide. Make sure you’re also plugging any pipe leaks as soon as you notice them, because these will serve as a water source for spiders and allow them to thrive inside your house.
- Don’t ignore the nooks, crannies and storage spaces that might usually go unchecked when cleaning your home. Spiders like undisturbed locations, so make sure you check your attic and garage and look under furniture, stairwells and crawl spaces when you’re going about your regular cleaning. Since these places tend to be dark and tight, we also recommend wearing gloves in case you do encounter any spiders.
- Outside, it is important to wear long sleeves, long pants, and gloves if you will be in the areas where spiders like to hide. It’s also important to watch where you are putting your hands when you rake leaves, clear debris, or move wood from a woodpile.
Treatment of Spider Bites
Treating a spider bite depends on the species. In most cases, washing the site of the bite with soap and water will be necessary. You might experience some redness and swelling in this area. A spider bite is easy to tell apart from a mosquito or other types of insect bites because it tends to cause a larger welt and takes longer to heal.
You will probably feel a slight pinprick at the time of a black widow spider bite. But within a few hours, you may notice muscle cramps, stiffness, fever, abdominal pain, vomiting and other symptoms. If you have a brown recluse spider bite, there will be stinging and redness at the site. Later, the area will blister before forming an ulcer. Both of these spider bites warrant more care than you can administer at home. However, the common house spider’s bite is completely harmless – just an irritating nuisance.
For any spider bite, take the following steps:
- Wash the area with mild soap and water.
- Apply a cool, damp cloth to it.
- Elevate the bite if it is on a limb.
- Seek out medical attention as soon as you can if you know you were bit by a venomous spider or if serious symptoms start to develop in a few hours.
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Traps allow you to catch and release harmless spiders outside and can help you control the occasional spider. They lure spiders in with an aroma that is pleasant to them and allow you to empty the trap later. Most traps are simply made with the chemical aroma that attracts the spiders as well as a type of glue that traps them inside. If you leave the spiders in the trap for a few days, they will dehydrate and die. In this case, clean up the carcass as soon as possible so that you’re not attracting even more spiders or other types of pests.
Traps are a good place to start if you’ve seen more than a few spiders, because you’ll be able to check them periodically and monitor how large the infestation might be. Otherwise, it’s hard to keep track of spiders because of their tendency to hide in dark, secluded spaces.
We’ve outlined some of the best spider traps on the market so you know what to purchase in order to get the job done on your own.
Spider poisons are a good option if you have seen more than one or two spiders around your home. Leaving the poisons around the places that spiders hide will lure them in, similar to the same way that traps can lure them with an aroma, and the spiders take the poison thinking that it’s food. This means that the poisons will kill spiders in the secluded areas they like to hide, so the only downside is that it may be hard to find them later in order to clean up. If you decide to use poison, make it a routine to continually check the small spaces around your house and clean up carcasses as soon as possible.
There are also different brands of spider sprays that you can buy online or in-store to lure the spiders in and poison them when they come near the area that you’ve sprayed. These are commonly used outdoors.
Be sure to use poison specifically formulated for spiders. Even if you’re tempted to use a handy can of common bug spray nearby, its chemicals aren’t nearly as affective on spiders and can be harmful to people and pets if sprayed continuously indoors.
Spider repellent can be used to prevent a spider infestation and to keep additional spiders away while you’re addressing a problem indoors. You can repel spiders with sprays that you purchase online or in stores for both indoor and outdoor use. These usually contain ingredients that smell foul to spiders, so they’ll stay away if you spray them around the perimeter of your home or in the secluded areas of your house where they might congregate. There are also several ingredients that serve as natural spider repellents, so if you have them in your kitchen cabinet it can be a very cost-effective way to deter a spider problem. These include:
- Apple cider vinegar and dish soap
- Essential oils, including eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil, tea tree oil, cinnamon oil and citrus oils
DIY Natural Spider Repellent Recipe
10 drops of any of the above essential oils
A drop of dish soap to keep the essential oils mixed in with water
Two cups of water
Add your bait ingredients to a bowl and microwave or heat on a stove top to medium heat. Once the solution cools, mix it and leave it in shallow containers such as bottle or jar lids near the ants’ path.
Diatomaceous earth can’t quite be considered a poison or repellent because of the unique way it kills arachnids and other insects. This substance is a white dust made up of the fossils of microscopic aquatic creatures, and the dust particles have sharp edges that cut into the exoskeleton of spiders as they walk over it. As the spiders encounter more diatomaceous earth and continue to develop cuts, it will eventually cause spiders to dehydrate and die.
To use diatomaceous earth, you can sprinkle a small amount near windows and entryways as well as inside cupboards, behind and under furniture, and underneath small spaces around your home. This method is one of the more environmentally-friendly options and can help get rid of fleas and ants as well as spiders. When using this substance, just be sure you’re buying the type of diatomaceous earth that is safe for ingesting. Otherwise, it can be toxic to your family or any pets you might have.
A pest technician can come prepared with the exact poisons and repellents for all the pests you are dealing with.
The DIY treatment methods we’ve provided are also great to get rid of a couple spiders here and there, but they will not be able to mitigate large numbers hiding in your home and breeding. Also remember that spiders are often found near their source of food: insects. If you already have an insect problem inside your home – such as ants in the spring – chances are that spiders will follow. A pest technician can come prepared with the exact poisons and repellents for all the pests you are dealing with.
If spiders continue to appear in the corners of your home no matter how often you sweep the areas down, you most likely have an infestation. Especially if you have already identified venomous spiders, that means you can be putting yourself in danger. A professional service will know how to get rid of the spiders quickly and mitigate the infestation so that you can be safe inside your home.
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