…and then go away with lavender scent!
The useful bit of this post: orange oil didn’t keep spiders away. But since I applied lavender oil to the rim of the door, no spider has been sighted in the room!
Spiders are generally good. They eat a lot of our pests (albeit in smallish numbers), and can help keep your plants and yourself healthy without the need of synthetic poison (which is bad, hence the name and the skull on the containers). They are amazing, having interesting predatory and sexual behaviours. They can be cute, such as the jumping spider that lives in the balcony fence, or those blue-ish thin-legged ones that have battles in the bathroom. They can be cool, like those building nests on the railing of the Dreirosenbrücke. Annoyingly, they can be scary. Like the big black fat spider that haunted me last autumn. Or worse, its even fatter cousin (or itself?) that paid me a visit about a month ago. Hiding under my bath towel. Not doing me any harm, just jumping to the floor (in fright, I’m sure) while I scuttled about in my newborn attire. Too large to fit our standard glasses, it unfortunately suffered a “platyfying by broom” after hanging out above the bed. I hate killing spiders, I do! Not because I find it disgusting or scary (maybe excepting this case), but because I do believe they are actually good and harmless—but tell that to my four-in-the-morning self. I didn’t used to be scared of spiders, but these ones kind of tipped me over the edge.
Living in a modern flat designed by people with some strange ideas about actually inhabiting doesn’t help keeping spiders outside. The bedroom has no windows, just a glass pane with a balcony door. Which you need to open if you want (as I do) some fresh air in the night. And has quite a perimeter for anything crawling to get the idea of coming in. I used to have some plants there, which would hopefully provide a quieter residence than the very naked walls and the often-moved items indoors. But the overexposure to heat almost killed everything (it’s also a very narrow and naked balcony). So I moved the sorry lads to the north-facing entrance.
Anyway. A big, naked door. So, I looked around for spider deterrants. And found oranges! Yes, citrus oil is apparently a good spider repellent, and it even smells delicious. So I simply applied it all around the door (see recipe below). On the same evening, a new spider was comfortably looking for a place to make its house, just beside the door (inside, of course!). I applied some more, but to no effect. So, I resorted to my go-to essential oil. Lavender. It’s now been three months, and I have not seen any spider yet (although the weather was rather spiderly). I guess tea-tree oil would work equally well.
Recipe: half a cup of water with about 10 drops of essential oil, plus a drop of soap—to break the oil droplets and actually dilute them. Stirred well with a kitchen brush and brushed generously all along the frame. Insects and spiders use chemoreception a lot, and are thus particularly sensitive to scents. Orange or lavender oil, in these quantities, should not actually harm any insects or spiders (except the mites and such that could have been crawling on the door frame, invisible to me), but just present them with a barrier of disgust, much like that over-perfumed person in the neighbouring table at the restaurant.
Essential oils evaporate in a few days, so one needs to re-apply often. Good side effect: it will also remove some grimy dust!
Other alternatives are: rubbing lemon or orange peel around the window (if you’re lucky) or door frame. Different essential oils have been claimed to deter spiders: Citrus, Lavender, Tea-tree, Peppermint. It is well possible that it depends on the species of spiders, so just try what you have on hand. Don’t spray them on your bed, though (some websites reccommend that!), as they can be toxic to you if exposed for long periods of time.