Spiders on the lookout for web-sites in our houses
Spiders. The mere mention of the word is enough to send shivers down the spines of arachnophobes, particularly at this time of the year as the weather turns and they begin to move indoors.
Over the past number of weeks the media has been full of stories about how changing seasonal weather has seen spiders invading our homes for warmth and food. Ger Grant, of Cork based Pest-A-Tak pest control says the number of calls he gets about our four-legged friends always increase at this time of the year.
However, he said that contrary to popular myth there are no more spiders around than at any other time of the year - it's just that they are bigger. "During the warm summer months spiders tend to make 'cotton ball' nests in the dry spaces outside of windows and breed there. As the weather gets damper they simply move indoors though small gaps," said Ger.
He said this corresponds with the young spiders maturing and seeking warmth and food. "They are more obvious at this time of the year because they look bigger, particularly when you see them running across the floor and on ceilings. In fact most of them are quite small, it's just the length of their legs makes them appear much larger," he said. While this is unlikely to come as much of a consolation to those with a fear of spiders, Ger said they actually do more good than harm.
"Spiders are hunters. By killing other insects in the home they are actually doing us a favour. Unlike some other pests, spiders are casual intruders that wander into houses and will go back outside once the weather conditions are right. They are not an infestation. The maximum number of spiders in a home at any given time would be 10 to 15."
He said that the spiders we see in our homes, regardless of their size, are harmless and are more afraid of us than we are of them. One spider that does grab the headlines is the so called 'false' black widow, with reports of people being hospitalised after being bitten by one. However, Ger said he rarely comes cross them during his work.
"It is true they can pack a nasty bite, but in my experience they are relatively harmless to most people if left alone. A wasp sting would feel worse," he said. As for catching spiders, Ger said the tried and trusted methods are the best. He said you can hoover them up, but they stay in the bag and will reappear again if it is not emptied. "The best way is to catch them using a glass and take them back outside," he said.
With temperatures set to fall over the coming months, spiders will inevitably migrate from the cold outdoors into warm and snug houses.
However, are a number of simple tips that can be used to keep them outdoors:
• Spiders do not like strong citrus smells. So a strategically placed bowl of lemon juice should do the trick.
• Apparently spiders hate tobacco as much as they do citrus. Sprinkling little bits of tobacco around the house will act as a deterrent.
• Some plug-in devices emit a high pitched noise that apparently upsets spiders.
• Spay peppermint, tea-tree oil or eucalyptus oil around the house. They upset spiders as much as citrus.
• Get a cat. They like nothing better than to have a bit of sport with a hapless arachnoid.
• Check around doors and windows for cracks and seal up any that you may find.
• Spiders love hiding in clutter so keep your house nice and tidy.