People for the Ethical Treatment of Spiders
March 30, 2008 6:48 PM   Subscribe

during the wintertime, what is the kindest way to get rid of a spider?

So in the summertime, whenever I find a spider in the house, I pick him up (using a ton of tissue paper, the wuss that I am) and throw him outside.

Lately, I have been finding spiders in the house and after I threw one outside as I normally do, I realized that I probably sentenced the poor critter to death by freezing (it is still below freezing up here!).

Does mr. spider have a chance out in the cold, will he not feel it, or would it be kinder if I flushed him down the toilet?
posted by bitteroldman to Pets & Animals (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Spiders don't have a complex enough nervous system to experience anguish. This isn't moral validation for plucking the legs off of a Daddy Longlegs, for instance, but in the grand scheme of things the way you kill a spider doesn't matter at all.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:50 PM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

There's been some interesting research which indicates that misplacing animals from where they're a nuisance to where they're "natural" actually results in a more miserable death lots of the time. However, they say you're never...what, more than 6 feet away from a spider at any time?

Seriously, unless you live in Siberia and throw the spider on a frozen lake, I'm sure he'll find a protected place to take cover.

*However*, if you've got a lot of spiders that might indicate to me that you've got a lot of spider *food*, aka bugs...and that might be something you want to check into.
posted by TomMelee at 6:54 PM on March 30, 2008

Capture it in an envelope, then go to the train station. Release the spider inside. It will stay warm there and have plenty of room to spin webs.
posted by netbros at 6:54 PM on March 30, 2008 [9 favorites]

The spiders that I work on usually finish their lifecycle during the winter. They lay eggsacs that survive the winter and hatch in better conditions. So if you keep a spider warm (say indoors) they will probably survive for longer, but it will be unnatural.
posted by dhruva at 6:57 PM on March 30, 2008

Best answer: Do you have any place "protected" to drop it... wood-pile?, bushes?, garage?....

Capture it in an envelope, then go to the train station. At the train station, purchase a 1-way ticket to a warmer climate (say, Arizona?). Now, your spider might get lonely inside so you better drop in a fly or two and a very small suitcase. They dont require much oxygen, so it'll be ok. Staple the ticket to the outside (spiders dont have hands) so the conductor will find it. (You might consider bribing the conductor to care for the envelope, but remember, illicit transport of nocturnal insects IS a federal crime punishable by... oh.. I dont know what, but I bet you dont wanna know. ) Run along side the train as it pulls away and *WATCH OUT FOR THAT POLE!!!*... oh man, that looks like it hurt.
posted by jmnugent at 7:12 PM on March 30, 2008 [12 favorites]

Seriously: if you can't live with them (my preferred option, since I like spiders much better than mosquitoes) just squash them.

Spiders reproduce prolifically, and most of them die young. At any time, therefore, your local environment is supporting just about exactly as many spiders as it can. If you move spiders around, the most likely result is that they either quickly die or quickly kill a different spider to make room for themselves.

It's not worth tying yourself into ethical knots on behalf of a non-sentient biological automaton.
posted by flabdablet at 7:16 PM on March 30, 2008

"Spiders are invertebrates; cold blooded, cold temperature slows them down considerably even to the point of inactivity during winter." (source)
posted by desjardins at 7:23 PM on March 30, 2008

He'll probably crawl right back into your house, or into somebody else's.

That said, if the spider is neither poisonous (and he's probably not) nor situated somewhere inconvenient, you may consider just leaving him be, if you're that worried about him. I credit my spiders -- well, and my cat -- for my mostly bug-free home. Spiders don't eat my food, don't make any noise, and are largely content to pretend that I don't even exist. They're not pests; they eat pests.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:34 PM on March 30, 2008 [2 favorites]

Squash the bastard and use carcinogenic bug-spray to do the job instead.

I grew up (and currently live!) in an area that has a lot of spiders, a non-negligible portion of which are black widows and brown recluses. Spiders die. If they made "spider spray," I would use it.

God, I hate spiders.
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:40 PM on March 30, 2008

Well thanks @TomMelee. I won't be getting any sleep tonight.

This spider nerd recommends killing spider specimens for study by freezing them, so probably your little buddy wouldn't fare too well. Who knows, maybe they can find insulated places to burrow or whatever.

I would just like to remind everyone that spiders are little alien robot machines that are here to destroy us. They must all be exterminated. KILL KILL KILL.
posted by Askr at 8:51 PM on March 30, 2008

Darn it. Wrong link. This spider nerd.

Still, though. KILL.
posted by Askr at 8:55 PM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

I stick 'em in the basement with their brethren, where they hang out by the basement window and happily stay put eating all the other little beasties trying to get into my house via the broken basement window.
posted by desuetude at 9:36 PM on March 30, 2008

Spiders ADORE me, especially in the winter. Especially at night. Especially when I'm sleeping. Needless to say, I'm pretty terrified of spiders.

That said, I think spiders are awesome and fascinating. When I find a spider in the same room as me, I chase them off or move them to another room (usually with a stick). Removing them from the house only brings them back, and killing them makes their revenge that much more bitter.

Once, I woke up with a spider in my mouth.
It's true, but I only said it to may you go GAAHH! And I bet you did.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 11:17 PM on March 30, 2008

I have a magical spider capturing device (patent pending) which is comprised of a jelly jar and lid with the words "spider box" written on it. I use it to capture spiders and re-home them elsewhere- screw the lid on and an average spider can survive for many hours in your messenger bag and take them to the train station, the office, wherever, without having to worry about them getting a) squished or b) escaping.
posted by arnicae at 11:37 PM on March 30, 2008

I went GAAHH!

2nding squishing.
posted by craven_morhead at 5:43 AM on March 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

Squash them on sight. The potential of serious bites is not to be ignored.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:23 AM on March 31, 2008

If you don't want to kill him, then why not just let him be?
posted by JJ86 at 6:35 AM on March 31, 2008

Spider taught us to weave. Weaving makes clothes that keep us warm and let us live in places where Winter would kill us. Spider eats moths who try to eat holes in our clothes and make us cold so Winter can tickle us to death.

Spider is our teacher and protector. Move her to a different room of the house if you must disturb her, but please don't kill her.
posted by breezeway at 6:37 AM on March 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

So maybe a tiny bit off topic, and if too much I apologize, but still I wanted to share a game with you we played as kids. It's called "sniffing spiders." No, not like drugs---read on.

You simply take a moderately bright flashlight, any of the mini-mag style or even cheapo rayovac ones will work. You don't want a ginormous one though. Wait until it's nice and dark. Holding the flashlight to the end of your nose (so you're gazing right down the beam), walk around outside. Make sure you shine the beam around rocks and overhangs and other spidery places. What's really AMAZING is that their little spider eyes will flash brilliant greens, blues, and reds back at you. Once you see one (you'll know it when you see it), you can walk towards it keeping the beam on it. You can usually walk all the way up to it and see that for real a little half inch spidey was shinin' you from half your yard away.

(Sometimes it's drops of dew---but most of the time, it's spiders!)

I share because it's a fun game to show both the prevalence of and general lack-of-danger presented by spiders. It works year round, but it's best best best in the warm months.
posted by TomMelee at 7:01 AM on March 31, 2008 [3 favorites]

In my house we don't mind spiders because we gladly welcome their willingness to go after the bad bugs rather than us. If you do have to get rid of one, put one in an envelope and release it in Wal-Mart rather than a train station. Some people need to sleep in a train station and anyways it would be less awkward to release a spider in Wal-Mart than anywhere else.
posted by mamaraks at 7:07 AM on March 31, 2008

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