Spotting a spider in your home is a less-than-ideal situation. After all, they’re creepy and crawly, and a spider sighting can spark fears that there are more where that one came from.
Just know this: It’s actually not a bad thing to have a stray spider around. “Most spiders aren’t harmful,” says entomologist Roberto M. Pereira, Ph.D., an insect research scientist with the University of Florida. Not only will they usually leave you alone, but spiders can also help get rid of other pesky insects in your house, but he also says.
There are several species of spiders that can invade your home, including the American house spider, daddy longlegs, orb-weaver spiders, and grass spiders. Again, while most aren’t interested in interacting with (read: biting) you, there are the few that can be problematic—like the black widow or brown recluse.
If a spider (or spiders, if you’re really unlucky) has taken up residence at your place, it’s only natural to want it gone. Here’s how to get rid of spiders in your home—and how to prevent them from coming back.
Where can you find spiders indoors?
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It depends on the type of spider you’re dealing with, says Ben Hottel, Ph.D., Technical Services Manager at Orkin. “Spiders that make webs are commonly found in undisturbed areas such as attics, garages, furnace rooms, window sills, storage closets, or eaves on the outside of homes,” he says. “Spiders that don’t build webs and actively hunt—such as brown recluse spiders—can be found in wall voids, cardboard boxes, and unused furniture.”
Spiders prefer warm, dark spaces, add board-certified entomologist Nancy Troyano, Ph.D., Director of Operations Education and Training for Ehrlich Pest Control. And, since the spiders that tend to lurk around your home mostly feed on small insects, you can also find them hanging out in gardens or rock piles, she says.
How to get rid of and kill spiders
You could squash a spider and call it a day, but experts say there are other methods that can help eliminate them if that doesn’t sound like fun to you.
Simply vacuum them up.
Yup, you can just suck up spiders, Troyano says. This hack also gets rid of their webs and egg sacs, she points out, so be sure to vacuum around corners regularly.
Or, try a sticky trap.
If you know there’s a spider lurking about, but couldn’t kill it upon sight, try setting up a simple trap—like this one from Terro. It’s non-toxic and uses glue to immobilize the spider (or any bug) and prevent it from escaping.
Clean spider-friendly areas.
That means consistently removing webs and cleaning out your attic, garage, closets, and other dark spaces.
Banish the clutter.
Some spiders like to hide in objects (think: cardboard boxes, old baseball gloves, etc.). The more hiding spots these spiders have, the more difficult it will be to get rid of them, Hottel says, so try doing a mini purge each season to keep clutter at bay.
How to prevent spiders from coming into your home
In a perfect world, you’d get rid of spiders and never, ever have to deal with them again. In reality, more can find their way inside. That’s where prevention methods come into play:
Fix loose screens.
A loose screen, or one that has a hole in it, can be a possible way for a spider (or any insect, really) to enter your home, Hottel points out. You can also place screens over vents and crawl spaces.
It’s the same deal as loose screens—you want to eliminate any possible entryways for spiders, Hottel says. Seal up any tiny crevices or openings around utility boxes, windows, or vents using caulk or foam sealant. You can also get a door sweep or stoppers for entrances that lead outside.
Check the moisture levels in and around your home.
“Excessive moisture attracts many insects, which in turn will attract spiders,” Troyano says. Stay on top of any leaks that may crop up and consider adding a dehumidifier to your basement, she says.
Do some general lawn care.
Spiders are drawn to hiding spaces outside of your home, too. Be sure to trim the grass near the foundation, keep firewood further away, and rake away piles of leaves.
Get rid of other insects.
“The presence of insects and other prey in homes is a common reason for spiders to come inside,” Hottel says. (Check out our full guides on how to get rid of ants, stink bugs, cockroaches, fruit flies, ticks, and bed bugs.)
When should I call a pro about my ant problem?
If you’ve tried these tricks and you’re still seeing spiders in your home, Dr. Hottel says it’s time to call in a professional exterminator. That’s definitely true if you happen to spot brown recluse spiders in your house (they’re hairy and tend to be gray, black, or brown). “These spiders can be very difficult to eliminate on your own,” Dr. Hottel says.
And, of course, there’s your mental health to consider if you’re afraid of spiders. “You might seek out a professional for your own peace of mind,” Troyano says. “The thought of living with spiders can be unnerving to most people.
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