How To Spider-Proof Your House This Fall

Well, we regret to inform you that the jury is still out on horse chestnuts and nice-smelling oils. LukasPich/Shutterstock

Arachnophobes, be prepared for a tough few months.

In the last weeks of September, when the summer starts to cool off and damper weather draws in, your home will become a prime hook-up spot for the autumnal spider mating season, so you can expect a few more eight-legged friends than usual creeping around your walls.

If you are terrified of spiders, you've no doubt spent many evenings Googling “how to keep spiders out of my life” and been confronted with a bunch of old wives' tales and semi-scientific-sounding anecdotes.

But what can you really do to keep these misunderstood arachnids out of your home? Well, we regret to inform you that the jury is still out on horse chestnuts and nice-smelling oils.

A small study published in the Journal of Economic Entomology last year tested out three regularly cited all-natural spider repellents – lemon oil, peppermint oil, and horse chestnuts (aka conkers) – and their efficiency at repelling female spiders. The researchers noted that lemon oil was the most frequently cited repellent on Google, however, they found no evidence that it had any effect on the spiders. Peppermint oil did, however, show some apparent repellent effects on two out of three species of spider, deterring spiders in more than 75 percent of tests. To a lesser extent, conkers also had a mild deterrent effect on two spider species.

However, many arachnologists will argue that in reality, natural deterrents don't work.

“There is no research that shows anything like that is a deterrent to spiders,” Paul Hetherington of the charity Buglife told The Guardian in 2015. 

As a total contradiction to that study, schoolkids from the UK won a prize from The Royal Society of Chemistry for their investigation into whether spiders really are repelled by conkers. According to their little classroom experiment, the conker theory was a load of nonsense as the spiders showed absolutely no signs of being deterred by them.

There’s very little in the way of hard scientific evidence to say that any pungent-smelling herb or natural ingredient is enough to totally dissuade spiders, whether it’s vinegar, tobacco, or any essential oil.

That said, there are some more straight-forward solutions. 

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