Most people aren’t too thrilled at the idea of sharing their living space with spiders. That’s normal: many of us have a natural aversion to the eight-legged beasties. But did you know that having a few arachnids around the house is actually quite useful? The key word is “few.” To make sure they don’t multiply excessively, here are a few simple tricks.

Unwanted guests? Not entirely!
Spiders love all sorts of insects, so it’s not surprising that they should enjoy living inside and near our homes. Landscaping elements, vegetable gardens, and nearby bodies of water or woods are all attractive to insects, which are the main items on spiders’ menus. Meanwhile, basements, spaces behind furniture, items stored here and there, as well as nooks and crannies both inside and outside the house are perfect spots for spiders to spin their webs or lie in wait for their prey.

The good news, according to Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency, is that having a few spiders in one’s basement or crawlspace is in fact desirable, because they help eliminate earwigs and other insects that can get in. In other words, spiders are natural pest control agents.

Managing spiders’ presence
Although house spiders are useful to a degree, no one wants to see hordes of them move in. To keep them at bay without using pesticides, which are harmful to human health as well as the environment, there are a few simple precautions:

  • Vacuum and clean! A clean house attracts fewer insects, which means less spider food… and fewer spiders.
  • Make sure doors and windows are sealed tight and check that screens are intact. Also, don’t forget to install screens over exhaust and intake vents.
  • Try to remove spider webs daily, wherever you find them. Without their webs, spiders can’t catch their prey and, if they don’t find food, they’ll eventually move out.
  • Inspect items that have been left outside before bringing them inside, to make sure no insects or spiders are hiding on or in them.
  • All around the outside of the house, ensure that a wide strip of ground is free of objects: items in contact with the ground trap humidity, providing an especially welcoming environment for woodlice, earwigs and the like.
  • Keep exterior night lighting to a minimum: lights attract insects.

More afraid of us than we are of them…
If you’re afraid of spiders, you’re not alone! You should know, however, that spiders found in Quebec homes aren’t harmful to human health. They may bite, which is a defence reflex if they are trapped, for example in a glove or shoe. A spider bite generally causes only mild, temporary pain. More often than not, it’s spiders that are afraid of us, not the other way round: they tend to flee our presence, which should give us the courage to deal with them!