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Spider Repellant

Summary: Just because something is a home remedy does not mean it is not worth trying. The Osage orange is said to have terrific spider repellent attributes, but there is no science behind the claim. However, if it works for you that is all that matters.

A reader asks: I am looking for a grapefruit sized, avacado colored fruit or vegetable that is used to repel spiders. I have seen these used, but don't know where to get them?

Dear Reader: Every profession has its home remedies and people swear by them. I believe if you feel strongly enough about something and it does not hurt the environment, give it a try.

It is said that the fruit of the Osage orange tree, which is also known as a hedge apple or spider ball, can repel spiders. This theory is widespread in Midwestern states where the trees are common. Apparently, putting these aromatic hedge apples around the exterior walls of a house in the fall will keep spiders from coming inside.

Problem is there is no documented evidence that spiders are repelled by


Osage-oranges. Spiders can be found living on Osage orange trees. You can even find spider webs right on the fallen fruit. In fact, spiders seldom show any sign of being able to detect airborne odors.

Of course, once these stories get rolling they develop neat little twists. In some versions of the story the hedge apple can repel everything from cockroaches to mosquitoes to chicken mites. Research has shown that there are chemical compounds in the fruit that repel cockroaches, although the fruit itself does not.  One method that definitely works is to pick up the hedge apple and smash the offending bug with it. 

Osage oranges are even said to deter mice, but we know that squirrels regularly chew through these fruits to get the tasty seeds inside. So, using the hedge apple as a rodent repellent seems pretty ineffective.

In the Pacific Northwest where Osage oranges are fairly rare, Osage oranges have been replaced with horse chestnuts. Maybe its coconuts in Florida.

Click here to watch my short video on how to keep spiders in check.

Ask Rick A Question


19 Sep 2008, 00:09
Actually, there is some research that would suggest hedge apples do well in repelling various insects. There is a chemical in the oil extracted from the fruit called elemol, which has properties similar to DEET in repelling insects. Since DEET doesn't repel spiders, I don't see why a hedge apple would work either. But, I hate wolf spiders (huge but harmless), and our house used to be full of them. As long as I keep hedge apples around the house I don't see any. As soon as I throw the hedge apples away, they come back. Maybe they're following the bugs that are repelled by the apples...I don't care, as long as the spiders are gone.
Doug Thayer
29 Apr 2009, 10:55
What can I use to repel spiders? I live in Brazil and the spiders are a lot worse than in California. They´re bigger, more poisonous and aggressive - they will run towards you.

Are you sure that DEET doesn´t work?

28 May 2009, 10:26
I have heard many other home remedies also. WHat about eucalyptus plants and oils sprayed around the house? Does it really repel anything? We just moved to a new house in Kentucky and I am 100% sure we have recluses. I am trying to avoid having any pesticides in the house due to our 3 small children, but I also would hate to have any of them bitten. I have done everything every website says to do aside from pesticides, and nothing seems to work. We have gotten rid of about half of our possessions just trying not to give the little guys a place to hide...and I found 3 last night. This is crazy. Please help!!
Ask the Exterminator
28 May 2009, 13:43
It's fairly well known in our industry that once you get them getting rid of them is nearly impossible. They hide. They stay away from places humans frequent. Getting pesticides to their nests is not always possible.

I understand your reluctance about pesticides, but the heavily toxic pesticides have been removed from the market. You can use pesticides if you carefully follow all the label instructions. It's the sloppy applications that get people in trouble. Used as a crack and crevice treatment your children will not be affected.
14 Jul 2009, 18:25
To my knowledge, the best way to actually get rid of spiders is to get rid of their food source. Like any other living creature, if there is no food available, it will leave in search for it.

Place ant traps to get rid of ants, for example.

If you have one of those big-zapper things or an outdoor light source, move it to the farthest spot in your yard from the door. This will attract all the flying insects and, thus, the spiders away from the house.
Brooke Skyra
28 Sep 2009, 14:31
Hi Doug,
I have some good ideas to repel spiders. I have an uncle that lives in costa rica that deals with them & another in uncle that lives in Brazil. Please email me. thanks, Brooke Skyra from Sacramento, Ca
Carrie - Kentucky
30 Sep 2009, 20:01
Audie, I have heard another Kentucky bug the house centipede feeds on spiders. I used to have many spiders, and somehow I was "fortunate" enough to get these creepy centipedes. The spider population seems to be quite low now. My research on the house centipede indicates they don't bite, carry disease or damage property - they just eat spiders so even though I hate seeing them, I have decided to live with them.
24 Jan 2010, 13:21
I had problems with spiders in my mailbox. I placed a hedgeapple in the mailbox and the next day the spiders were gone and haven't returned in a year. That's scientific enough to convince mem

I had found the hedge apples along the road last fall. Next fall I'll gather all I can find and place them in and around my house including the basement and attic.
01 Oct 2010, 00:14
A spider has apparently been killing its prey, wrapping it in a webby packet, and leaving them under furniture. Tonight I even found a bee that had been wrapped up which really concerns me - must be quite a spider to catch a bee. I am in a rural area outside of Washington DC, have plenty of little spiders that I get rid of as quickly as I see them, but more come in their place. I wasn't too worried about them, but now I'm worried about what sounds like it could be a giant and very tough spider roaming around.
18 Feb 2011, 18:26
Are spider repellents advertised real? I have brown recluse around my house.
Ask the Exterminator
18 Feb 2011, 22:50
The only thing the repellent will do is make the spider find a deeper hiding place. Brown recluse spiders are very difficult to get rid of. They multiply quickly and do not show themselves often.
Maddy G
08 Jun 2011, 20:53
Horse apples or aka hedge apples are good spider repellent. Also Lemon Pledge they hate the 'taste' of it.
08 Oct 2011, 15:33
I live in Nebraska and have 3 small children. I've come across a couple recluses...I also see other spiders in my house on a daily basis. I know they are not "out to hurt" us but my children are terrified. They wake at night screaming about seeing spiders. I had someone give me some hedge apples to put around my house...I guess I was wondering..for those of you who believe hedge apples work, WHERE DO I PUT THEM? Doesnt seem to make much sense to keep them outside of the house...wouldnt that just keep the ones I have inside? WE NEED HELP! I'm not sure what else to do...I need something to ease my kids thoughts at night...HELP!!-Jessica
Ask the Exterminator
08 Oct 2011, 17:45
I suggest using the insect monitoring traps to capture spiders as they go out on their nightly hunts for (insect) food. The monitoring traps are available on this website by clicking on "Pest Control Products" at the top of this page.
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