DIY pest control for spiders?
September 3, 2014 6:53 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for alternatives to paying for professional pest control.

We pay about $85 every three months for pest control, mainly for spiders. But we occasionally get other crawlies in the house, like pillbugs and roaches. We ask for the pet-safe spray, which smells like Ben Gay. The exterminators spray around the floorboards of the house and around the outside of the house. Takes two people about 15 minutes.

But the spiders come back about a month before the next appointment. I guess the pet-safe spray isn't as strong as the regular stuff. So we need to spray more often, but I don't want to pay for more visits.

I tried using Ecosmart indoor/outdoor home pest control spray. The built-in sprayer was drippy and put down a lot of liquid. It was like using a Windex bottle to spray milk on the tile floor. Also, the peppermint/Ben Gay smell was very strong and lasted for hours.

Then I bought a plastic spray tank with a plastic nozzle. It, too, laid down a heavy coat of the stuff. I can use this to spray the outside, but not inside. Too much run-off.

When the exterminators do it, I can't even tell they've been. Even the smell only lasts about an hour.

So, help me out, please. I really just need a regular, pet-safe (cat-safe, specifically) solution to keep spiders and other pests out of the house. What works?
posted by Boxenmacher to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Where are you, and what kind of spiders? I ask because spiders are predators, so if you have spiders, you have other bugs that the spiders are eating (quite possibly microscopic mites and other critters that you can't see, or at least can't easily notice). I generally just take a Swiffer and wipe up visible cobwebs every couple of weeks, but otherwise leave the spiders alone, on the grounds that they are keeping the rest of the arthropod population in check.
posted by brianogilvie at 7:09 PM on September 3, 2014 [5 favorites]

You might call around and see if you can get a better deal. I have someone come every two months for only $54 each time. If your spiders are showing up a month before the 3-month window ends, you could remedy that just by having someone come every 2 months instead. A lot of companies also give you free extra services if you're paying for them to come on a regular schedule. It's part of the deal with my company that they'll come out extra times for free if ants show up in our house, for example, between the regular service times.
posted by something something at 7:11 PM on September 3, 2014

The charming website What's That Bug features many, many stories of unnecessarily killed spiders, some of whom EAT ROACHES.

In cases where there is good reason to be inhospitable to bugs, What's That Bug often offers concrete solutions.
posted by feral_goldfish at 7:30 PM on September 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

You can buy diatomaceous earth, we have gotten at our local Fleet Farm (they sell it to mix with chicken feed). Sprinkle it outside your house and also in cracks and crevices in your inside.

You don't say your location, which I assume is South USA or Australia? You can also use boric acid in judicious cracks inside. I have purchased that at hardware stores in a tall tube with a nozzle that you cut off, so you can squirt the powder into places where cats can't get to. Boric acid is really good against roaches, btw.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:35 PM on September 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I genuinely hate to question the premise, but why are you killing spiders? They're at the upper end of whatever you probably want to be getting rid of. If you want to be holistic about it, you'd start by sealing up the crevices and entryways into your house and making sure you have no rotting wood or moisture issues which tend to attract bugs. Unless you're living somewhere where bugs are a different type of issue, or these spiders are a different type of issue, in which case that additional info would be helpful.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 7:41 PM on September 3, 2014

I'm in San Antonio, Texas, US.

I don't know what kind of spiders, other than they're small and build webs. I never find insect husks, so I don't know what they could be eating. But I have found webbed egg sacs behind shelves and in high corners. I assumed they'd infiltrated the house to lay eggs in a cool, dry place.

Before regular pest control, we'd see the occasional roach or pillbug. I can't recall anything else.

I don't necessarily want to kill the spiders, just keep them outside. My wife is terrified of them.
posted by Boxenmacher at 8:00 PM on September 3, 2014

Do My Own Pest Control has served me well in dealing with insects in the past.
posted by fief at 8:12 PM on September 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think this is the stuff we use. The pros use it; virtually no odor at all.

It is safe around pets once it dries, so just keep the pets in the last room you plan to spray while you do the rest of the house, let them out and then spray the room they were in.
posted by misha at 9:57 PM on September 3, 2014

Oh god, I've become THAT TYPE OF ASKMEFITE, the one who keeps problematizing the question. But it sounds like the underlying problem is that, as you say, your wife is terrified of spiders. Even the most potent cat-safe pest control won't be able to eliminate spiders from her life entirely: outside the house, for example, or in the media (some people can't even look at photos or read mentions of spiders without triggering panic attacks). And phobias are medical conditions that cause very real suffering.

Regardless of your pest control decisions, it seems like your wife's quality of life would benefit permanently from a couple hours of phobia treatment. Here's a nice (popularly reported) study of how it's done. More locally, it's been done by the LSAD at UT Austin, who even if they're not still doing this sort of work themselves could probably recommend someone in your area. Or you could just search for a therapist. It's a pretty common and effective treatment.
posted by feral_goldfish at 6:37 AM on September 4, 2014

Also, seconding Marie Mon Dieu on diatomaceous earth. While it does horrible things to bugs, its action is mechanical rather than chemical, so it's totally safe for humans and cats, who don't have exoskeletons.
posted by feral_goldfish at 6:40 AM on September 4, 2014

You can't have spiders in your house. Your wife is afraid of spiders because they can kill you. I don't know why anyone would spray for spiders, that seems extremely ineffective, all you have to do is lay one or two Hobo Spider traps in every room. Look inside the traps in one month and you will very clearly see how effective they are.

(Just heard someone got bit by a spider in my county - in Idaho - and he died from it. Then saw a hobo spider in my house. I usually have spider traps out but am behind schedule. Got them all out and set up last night.)

Hobo Spider Traps
posted by cda at 7:46 AM on September 4, 2014

solution to keep spiders and other pests out of the house

I don't necessarily want to kill the spiders, just keep them outside.

It is normal and okay to want your house to be pest free (including spiders). They must be eating something to survive. Sealing up the cracks and treating doors and windows with repellent oils (cinnamon, peppermint, orange, citronella) could help delay the return. Have you told the service that the treatments aren't lasting? They should have some suggestions to extend the usefulness without costing you more.
posted by soelo at 8:27 AM on September 4, 2014

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