Spider Questions

Get Creative in the Garden with Bryn — By on November 1, 2009 8:00 PM

A letter from a reader:

Hi Bryn,

I am a long time Yoga Bean subscriber and I very much enjoy your articles on gardening. I have a somewhat strange question for you, but here goes…

spiderwebWe recently set up a playhouse for my 2 year old daughter that she loves. What she does not love is SPIDERS and this thing seems to be filled with them… from daddy long legs to your standard fuzzy type. My question for you is do you know of a spray or powder that is and here’s the key~ KID SAFE that repels spiders? I thought given your vast knowledge of organic gardening you might have an idea for me. The more natural the better as far as I am concerned.

Sadly, she now plays for a little bit, sees an eight legger and REFUSES to reenter after that, even if me or my husband remove said creature. We have TRIED and TRIED to teach her not to fear them, but since her dad is also fearful, I think it may be hereditary! ;P

Any suggestions you might have would be great.

Thanks!
Kristen

BTW I also live in the Northeast, so we are not talking poisonous spiders (i don’t think)
Happy gardening!

A response from Bryn:

Hi Kristen,

I have to say I don’t have any direct experience with spider repellents, as they are more often something you want to attract to a garden than chase off. I’ve had some really interesting ones show up in the garden the past few years and have been meaning to learn more about them, but haven’t focused on it yet. That said, I did find a few websites with some homemade suggestions that you might want to try.

http://www.stretcher.com/stories/02/02jul01a.cfm

http://www.maryjanesfarm.org/snitz/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=5831

http://frugalforlife.blogspot.com/2009/04/organic-alternatives-to-spider.html

There’s a bit of repetition there, which is promising. Let me know what works.

I don’t know exactly where you live, but I do know there are 2 poisonous spiders around here-the brown recluse and the black widow. Here is the Penn State Extension’s spider info: http://ento.psu.edu/extension/spiders/spider-fact-sheets Your state should have something similar.

How have you tried to convince your daughter that spiders shouldn’t be feared? I wonder if watching Charlotte’s Web might help? You could also trap one of the playhouse spiders in a glass jar and see what you can learn about it. Maybe if it’s safely locked away, your daughter can study it and feel more comfortable about it. At a minimum, you can learn more and hopefully find out why they are attracted to the new playhouse.

Then again, as you said, it may be a completely irrational fear. I recently learned from a young boy that the reason earthworms are “gross” is because they are pink. It was an interesting insight, especially since that’s probably not the color I would have come up with to describe a worm. To most young boys, pink is undeniably gross and I didn’t even try arguing with him. Personally, no amount of knowledge or studying one behind glass will convince me not to fear sharks, alligators or crocodiles, but I’m also not likely to find one lurking in my playhouse.

Best wishes. Hopefully she’ll grow out of it.
Bryn Richard

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