When you find a spider in your house, don’t kill it! Instead, put it on one of your houseplants.
That way, if an aphid, whitefly, fungus gnat, or other unwanted insect should venture too close to your plant, you can be sure that the spider will quickly finish it off, possibly preventing the onset of a terrible infestation! That’s why you have good reason to maintain a certain population of house spiders among your houseplants.
One important note: don’t even think of freeing a house spider in your garden, thinking you’re doing it a service. The majority of house spiders (and there are several species) have coexisted with humans for thousands of years. They have long since abandoned the outdoor life: the inside of our homes is now their natural environment. They can’t survive outdoors and releasing them in the garden is a death sentence for them!
Most authorities estimate that only a very small population of the spiders found indoors (probably no more than 5%) migrated in from the outdoors and the rare exceptions generally don’t survive long indoors. There is therefore no need to plug possible access points, such as cracks and crevices around doors and windows, to prevent spiders from coming indoors. (However, it would be still wise to do exactly that to prevent other undesirable creatures from wandering in!)
And house spiders are useful in other ways. Read the article Learning to Tolerate Spiders to learn more.
How to Safely Move a Spider
Of course, moving a spider around can be complicated. Although house spiders rarely bite, especially when you handle them delicately, most people have an innate dislike of spiders and would rather not handle them. If so, there are long-handled tools specifically designed to pick up and move spiders (and other critters) without hurting them.
If you don’t have one at hand, simply use the age-old cup-and-paper method to move them.
- Catch the spider with a clear cup or glass.
- Gently slide a sheet of paper under the cup, which will force the spider to climb onto the paper.
- Now carry the cup and paper to your houseplants.
- Free the spider.
True enough, spiders are rarely very pretty, but they are the great friends of gardeners, both indoors and out!
*This article was written with North American and European readers in mind. Australian readers need to be especially careful about moving spiders, as there are many venomous ones in their country.