Spiders are beneficial hunters that feed on annoying insects–but having an infestation in your attic is not positive. Especially if someone in the house suffers from arachnophobia (pathological fear of spiders) or just finds spiders creepy. Getting rid of them is relatively easy but keeping them out requires some thought and effort.
Why Are Spiders In the Attic?
Spiders eat other insects. Flys, mosquitos, ants, moths, and any insect their webs can trap and hold. They follow prey into attics and set up shop–building webs and making baby spiders. Female spider egg sacs hold between 100 and 3000 eggs. They breed and lay eggs throughout their entire life cycle. Even a few hatches will populate an attic and have webs everywhere.
Spiders like dark confined spaces to live in but webs can spread across open spaces and be attached to rafters, joists, and insulation. If there are enough food sources in an attic, spiders and spider webs will be everywhere.
Getting Rid Of Spiders
Large infestations may require the services of a professional pest removal firm. Pest removal companies are also the best option for anyone who fears spiders. Arachnophobia affects 3.5% – 6.1% of the world’s population.
Vacuum Them Out
The easiest way to get rid of spiders is to vacuum them and their webs up. The trip into the machine should kill them but to be sure remove the bag or empty the canister into a garbage bag for disposal.
Inspect the entire attic roof and floor areas for spider webs. Also, any cartons, boxes, furniture, or clothing stored in the attic. It may take more than one pass with the vacuum to remove them all. Be persistent and plan for two or three cleanings.
Take care when vacuuming near loose-fill cellulose insulation or fiberglass insulation. The light fluffy material will be in the vacuum in a heartbeat–either filling the bag or plugging the hose. Remove spider webs close to insulation with a broom or damp mop. The spider may also emerge for easy killing.
Keeping Spiders Out Of the Attic
Removing spiders and webs is not a long-term solution. As long as the attic contains a food source, they will try to return. Unless some deterrents are used.
Seal the Attic
Completely sealing an attic to prevent insects from entering is difficult–but sealing obvious larger gaps or holes restricts insect and spider access. Seal around windows and vents. Make sure screens are not torn or missing. Install fine mesh metal screens over soffit vents. Use caulking or spray foam to seal any obvious gaps or cracks.
Clean The Attic
Cluttered attics provide hiding places for all types of insects. Spiders will spin webs to catch them and hide in things stored in the attic. Wet or moldy insulation also attracts insects. It should be removed and replaced. Or the spiders will follow.
It may be necessary to use an all-purpose spray insecticide to control large infestations–especially in lower slope attics that limit access to roof and wall junctures. Spraying insecticide throughout the attic not only kills spiders but will likely destroy their food source as well.
Natural Spider Repellants
Once the spider population is reduced or eliminated, several options are available to keep them out.
- Peppermint Oil. Spiders are repelled by the smell of peppermint essential oil. Mix 20 drops in a quart spray bottle and spray around the attic edges, vents, and windows. Eucalyptus oil also works well. Spiders avoid both.
- Diatomaceous Earth. Diatomaceous earth kills most soft-bodied insects by cutting through their bodies. Sprinkle a fine layer on attic floors or top plates where rafters or trusses sit on the walls.
- Vinegar. Vinegar mixed with water and sprayed on spiders kills them.
- Borax. Borax does the same job as diatomaceous earth and can be used the same way in the same locations.
- Mothballs. Mothballs placed around the attic also repel spiders.
Most of these repellants will have to be renewed every few months because they lose potency over time.
Danger Posed By Spiders
Most spiders only bite when threatened but there are two species to be concerned about–black widows and the brown recluse. Spider bites normally cause skin irritation and itching slightly worse than mosquito bites.
WebMD states that doctors use the term anaphylaxis to describe an allergic reaction to any insect sting or bite. Rare severe reactions are called anaphylactic shock–a situation that requires immediate medical attention. Anyone prone to this reaction should have epinephrine on hand in the form of an auto-injector pen.