If you’re an arachnophobe, beware. Autumn is the mating season for the common British house spider, Tegenaria domestica, also known as the barn funnel weaver in North America. In late August and September you might find males prowling around your house on the hunt for a mate.
At about 9mm, male house spiders are smaller than females (12mm) so if you spot a particularly large spider it’s possible it is a female, although they tend to stay by their webs.
Once the male and female have mated a number of times, the male stays to protect the female, then dies off in the late winter. The female lays her eggs in spring, and within 30 days the spider babies have hatched.
Luckily there are steps you can take to prevent house spiders and other spider species getting into your home. If spiders do get in there are steps you can take to get rid of them.
Need to get rid of spiders in your house?
Can’t bear spiders? Get the Hoover out and vacuum up the webs (and later the egg sacs).
If you have a really bad infestation, you can call in the professionals but these are radical measures and don’t come cheap. Find local pest controllers through an online search. (They also deal with false widow spiders, which have increased dramatically recently and can give a nasty bite.)
Apply a spray such as Exterminator’s Choice All N One Bug Defense, spraying it into corners and cracks.
Find out how to keep flies out of your house
Tips for preventing spiders coming into your house
1) Seal up holes with caulk or silicone and use a fine mesh fly screen (which you’ll find at big pet shops, as it’s often used for vivariums) to block chimneys, and vents such as air bricks. Spiders love to scuttle in through gaps in windows and doors or along cables that connect with the outside.
2) Go outside and remove all foliage, vegetation, dead leaves and stones from the perimeter of your home. Ivy and other climbing shrubs can be a favourite hiding place for spiders and other insects.
3) Ditch cardboard boxes, which attract insects and in turn spiders, in favour of plastic storage crates with tight-fitting lids. Cardboard boxes attract insect pests, which in turn attract spiders.
4) Move firewood outdoors, away from the house.
If you don’t have arachnophobia it’s much easier to leave them, because spiders are actually your friend, trapping unwelcome insects such as mosquitoes, fleas and flies in their webs.
If you want to get rid of them but not kill them, catch them in a jar, slide a piece of card over the top, and rehome outside. It’s easiest if you nab them while they’re in the web. Long-handled spider catchers are also available if you can’t bring yourself to get very close.
Most house spiders will not ever have set foot outside and are unlikely to survive in a garden environment so if you prefer for them to live it’s worth considering putting them in an outbuilding such as a shed or garage, where they can help keep insect numbers down.
A traditional deterrent is to place cracked horse chestnuts in the corners of rooms. The theory is that they contain a noxious chemical that repels spiders. Cracked walnuts in their shell are said to have the same effect.
Other natural remedies include spraying your home with a mixture of peppermint, tea tree or eucalyptus oil and water, or adding a few drops to areas where you think spiders are getting in.
Try a mix of that old favourite, white vinegar and water. The acetic acid in the vinegar is thought to burn and kill spiders, and neat vinegar left in a saucer in a corner is thought to repel them.
Buy an electronic deterrent, such as PestBye, which claims to clear your whole house by sending out a dual mix of high-pitched ultrasonic sound waves at frequencies too high for humans and most pets to hear, plus electromagnetic waves. Around £20.