There is no need to fear or kill spiders, which are mostly beneficial insects, as any child can tell you thanks to Charlotte’s Web. Spiders eat insect pests such as mosquitoes and flies.
And in terms of our health, synthetic chemical insecticides are much worse. They've been linked to cancer, can harm children’s development, and provoke headaches, asthma, and other ill health effects.
Most spiders pose no threat to humans. They bite only when provoked, according to the website of Beyond Pesticides, a respected nonprofit that specializes in the chemical-free control of pests. That said, no one likes waking up with a bite from active hunting spiders, like the brown recluse.
Here are some tips from Beyond Pesticides.
- Dust (use a long-handled dustmop for ceiling corners) or vacuum to remove webs and egg cases. Remember to clean under furniture and in closets.
- Keep clothing and shoes off the floor and shake them out—carefully, and outdoors. (Most spider bites happen when cleaning out closets or storage areas.)
- Capture and release spiders outside. Trap them with a wide-mouth jar, sliding stiff paper or cardboard underneath or sweep the spider into a grocery bag.
To Kill Without Chemicals:
- Swat hard with a magazine or shoe.
- If you have boxes or files you suspect spiders may be hiding in, either freeze them for 48 hours or put them in a sealed plastic bag to suffocate the spiders.
To Keep Them Outside:
- Seal any openings. Think: door sweeps and caulking gaps around electric openings, windows and vents. Also make sure screens are intact.
- Keep 2 feet of clearance between shrubs and the walls of your home. (This also helps keep termites out.)
- Draw curtains or shades at night so spiders (and other insects) won’t be attracted to windows.
- Ventilate and dry out any moist, humid areas where spiders might like to lurk.
- Cut down on clutter.
Seems spider monitoring is also a good way to get your spring cleaning underway!
Mindy Pennybacker is Whole Living’s eco expert. She regularly answers readers' green-living questions. She is also editor of GreenerPenny.com and author of Do One Green Thing: Saving the Earth Through Simple, Everyday Choices.