How do I get rid of this spider?
August 26, 2014 9:36 AM   Subscribe

A small-ish spider (slightly bigger than 1cm in diameter including the legs, I think) has set up home in my living room.

In Scotland so almost certainly not poisonous, FYI. I would normally try to put it in/on something and put it out the window but it's usually hiding in its web so I can't get at it. Plus I've startled it once or twice and seen how fast it can move - I'm not sure I could get it into a container and out the window fast enough before it crawled up my arm even if I could get in at it. Its web is sort of spun between several small (severely neglected) pot plants. If I try to vacuum it, the web could create enough of an obstacle for it to make an escape. I'm considering putting the whole lot in a bin bag but I think it might run off before I can complete the manoeuvre. I'd even settle for squashing it, even though ideally I don't want to deal with a dead spider - but it's not on a flat surface and has plenty of soil to hide in. I'm stumped.

(N.B. I don't like spiders and I don't want to touch it - please no suggestions that involving grabbing, catching, touching, petting, or making love to the spider. Thanks.)
posted by AllShoesNoSocks to Pets & Animals (15 answers total)
Why not spray it with bug killer? (Unless you have pets.)

My vote, if spray is a no-go, is to try the vacuum. That's what I usually do. Unless the web is massive, that should work, IMO.
posted by sevensnowflakes at 9:40 AM on August 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

It seems like you would not want to get a large plastic grocery bag, use it as a mitt, and grab the nest and everything all in one wad.

So I would suggest using air--your breath, or a hair dryer--to get it away from the plants. Then spray it with something caustic. Then get a bunch of paper towels and wipe up the whole thing.
posted by magdalemon at 9:44 AM on August 26, 2014

Vacuum it up using a hose extension. If the web creates a problem, vacuum up the web first, wait a while for the spider to come back out and then try again.
posted by Librarypt at 9:50 AM on August 26, 2014

The way my college roommate tried to solve this was by standing on the couch and chucking books at it while screaming. Turns out that this is an effective method but there does tend to be some collateral damage.

Personally if I couldn't burn down the house and move to another state immediately I would spray it mercilessly with a murder spray of your choosing then grab the whole wad up with a bunch of paper towels and a plastic bag and throw it out in the outside bin.
posted by phunniemee at 9:50 AM on August 26, 2014 [12 favorites]

If you decide to go the vacuum route, PUT A PIECE OF TAPE OVER THE END OF THE VACUUM HOSE. Ask me how I learned this lesson.
posted by phunniemee at 9:51 AM on August 26, 2014

Hairspray works, if you have it around -- death is not immediate, but it clogs their spiracles and causes them to suffocate. Or you could just leave it be, since it might be predating other bugs that are after your houseplants.
posted by ayerarcturus at 9:55 AM on August 26, 2014 [3 favorites]

I am not sure about getting the spider out of its web, but if you can do that, a good way to pick up fast-moving insects:
1. Get a relatively stiff piece of paper (printer paper is fine, but not newspaper) and some kind of plastic container (smaller than the paper).
2. Place the paper on the floor in front of the insect. Get ready with the plastic container in one of your hands.
3. Encourage the insect to move by approaching it from behind with your other hand (it will run away).
4. Once the insect is on the paper, quickly set the plastic container down around it. The insect should be trapped between the paper and plastic container.
5. Carefully slide one hand under the paper, holding the plastic container with the other hand. Make sure the paper is touching the rim of the plastic container. (Flip your hands so that the paper is on top and the plastic container on bottom, for improved security.)
6. Go outside. Separate the paper and plastic container and shake both vigorously, until the insect falls. It should run away from you.

Alternatively, if the spider just seems to be sitting in its web, you could leave it alone. Their natural lives are not too long, and in a few weeks you should be able to safely clean up the web and spider remains.
posted by snorkmaiden at 10:00 AM on August 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

Phunniemee: I think you mean that one should put a piece of tape on the hose AFTER the spider-demon has been sucked up into the vacuum--yes?
posted by calgirl at 10:37 AM on August 26, 2014

You need to get a non-spider-averse person to help you. There's no reason to kill the spider, and given its locale there's no way to even to do that without getting really nasty chemicals everywhere.

Get some long, thin sticks (maybe chopsticks) and start dismantling the web. At some point, the spider may run away, but she might go into a particular plant. If that happens, your spider-friendly acquaintance should be able to put the plant in a bag, then put the plant outside until the spider leaves it (with or without encouragement).

If the spider runs away from the plants, it should be easier to catch the her. I recommend either 1) non-corrugated shoebox with lid, or better 2) a large-mouthed-pickle-jar over the spider then slide a piece of cardboard gently under the lip, giving the spider a chance to voluntarily walk onto the cardboard or onto the jar side, so you don't hurt her legs.

As you can see, all of this involves the chance of the spider moving around. It should be safe, but you'll probably freak out a bit, so getting a spider-friendly person to help would be best for everyone. If you'll fly me to Scotland, of course I'd be up for the job :)

One further hint - the colder it is, the slower the spider will move. I'm not sure of the temperatures where you are now, but if you can make it cold around the spider that will decrease the chances you'll be startled.
posted by amtho at 10:43 AM on August 26, 2014 [3 favorites]

Phunniemee: I think you mean that one should put a piece of tape on the hose AFTER the spider-demon has been sucked up into the vacuum--yes?

Yes, that is what I mean. Otherwise you get revenge of the zombie spiders.
posted by phunniemee at 10:47 AM on August 26, 2014

I would just spray it with something. Trying to transport its web to a garbage bin seems like a really bad idea. If not bug killer, then spray it with a cleaner or Lysol or something.
posted by AppleTurnover at 10:49 AM on August 26, 2014

You should consider that if you get rid of the spider you may have a sudden infestation of whatever bugs are so delicious that she decided to move in in the first place.

I say that as someone who got rid of an inch-big wolf spider in her bathroom once, and then suffered the most crazy disgusting prolific mess of fruit flies for weeks after.

If it's not a dangerous species you might consider it.
posted by fiercecupcake at 11:21 AM on August 26, 2014 [6 favorites]

> sudden infestation of whatever bugs are so delicious that she decided to move in in the first place

Definitely. The spider is there because prey is available. If you take care of the prey, she'll leave on her own. I understand that's anxiety-producing as well.

Since she's on a plant, you may have fungus gnats, fruit flies, etc.

I would use a jar/glass and stiff paper/plastic (an envelope, index card, etc) to trap her into the glass, then deposit her outside. Put the stiff piece behind the web and pin forward to get the web and spider into the glass with the lip against the paper, sealing her in. Then just take her outside.

Alternatively, find a non-spider-averse friend as suggested.
posted by bookdragoness at 11:58 AM on August 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

Dr. Bronner's soap and ammonia and water should kill it. But maybe ask someone to move it outside?
posted by persona au gratin at 12:59 AM on August 27, 2014

Thanks for all the responses. Update: the spider actually seems to have taken care of itself, I haven't been able to find it for the last couple of days. I guess it either died or decided to live under the couch, so I can get rid of the web and (hopefully) not have to deal with the spider. Good point about flies; I actually just got rid of a fruit fly infestation around the time the spider appeared so that's probably why it was here in the first place. Marking phunniemee's answer as best because it's probably what I would've done in the end.
posted by AllShoesNoSocks at 10:05 AM on August 27, 2014

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