Are Spiders Nocturnal And Active At Night? (In-Depth Look)


Spider in his home spiderweb at sunset lurks on his prey. The rays of the setting sun illuminate the leaves of the bush in background.

Most of us agree spiders are not welcome inside, outside, or anywhere near our homes. So, when trying to repel them, when can you expect to see these creepy crawlers – nighttime or daytime?

In truth, most common spiders are nocturnal, meaning they’re awake during the night and asleep during the day. Some orb spiders are nocturnal, along with black widow and brown recluse spiders. Wolf spiders are mainly nocturnal as well, but enjoy hunting for food during the early morning hours.

Read on as we take an in-depth look into the habits of spiders and whether they are nocturnal or not. This will help you in any quests to rid your home or garden of any uninvited eight-legged guests!

What Time of The Year Are Spiders The Worst?

Some say any time of the year is the worst for spiders. And really, anytime you see a spider might be the worst time, right? It seems that no matter how cold or how hot it is, spiders will not go away!

You may notice patterns that spiders take when it comes to where they nest, set up webs, and what time of the year they come out. We all seem to notice an increase in activity in our homes in the late fall and early winter.

Spiders do not hibernate, instead, they slow down activity to conserve energy in the colder months and emerge for food and mates on warmer days. Unfortunately, spiders also target our homes for their nice and cozy climate. As such, winter is the worst time for spiders.

The activity of spiders during certain seasons depends on the species and their intentions. Courtship, hunting, and surviving all influence a spider’s actions inside and outside of your home.

Where Do Spiders Hide During the Day?

Nocturnal spiders like to hide in dark places during the day. Sneaky spider species such as the black widow, brown recluse, and some orb-weaving spiders will shy away from the sunlight. 

Homes provide many areas for spiders of all types to hide including behind walls, in attics, basements, under furniture, under appliances, and many other darker areas during the day. Outdoor spiders have an equal opportunity for hiding spots including piles of leaves and debris, underneath decks and porches, and sheds.

wolf spider (Lycosidae) , selective focus on face, close-up

Wolf spiders are made up of over 200 species types and roam the floors of woods and your lawn. Wolf spiders have excellent camouflage in leaf litter. This indicates that many spiders are hiding in plain sight, all over the place, day and night. Eek! 

Spiders are great at hiding, like the wolf spider in leaf piles, and are often difficult to spot. We often get surprised when a large black spider is crawling on our white walls.

It is best to not go looking for spiders during the day when they are hiding. And who would want to anyway?!

Understanding what time problem spiders emerge and what their activity patterns are will best serve an extermination or repellant plan. 

Creating a plan will determine the type of spider species you are dealing with, where they are located inside or outside your home, and what method will work best to safely remove them.

What Repels Spiders in the Home?

Let us take a look at various methods and tactics to get those creepy crawlers out of our house. Household methods commonly cited online include lemon oil, peppermint oil, and chestnut fruits. Some do work, but some are nothing more than myths.

The following is a breakdown from a study conducted by Journal of Economic Entomology in 2018. The Tangle-Web Spider (theridiids), False Black Widow (teatoda grossa), and Brown Widow (latrodectus geometricus) spider species were all used within this study.

Chestnuts: Chestnuts strongly repel the Brown Widow spider & prove less effective on the False Black Widow spider. The fresh chestnut oil will annoy a spider’s senses and keep them away. 

Mint oil: Mint oil strongly repeals the Brown Widow spider & proves less effective on the False Black Widow spider. Mint oil products for spider control can be found online. 

Now, the study certainly does not endorse this product, but Mighty Mint Spider Repellent has all plant-based ingredients – including the active peppermint oil, and inactive glycerin, polyglycerol oleate, and soap.

Outside of the study, here’s another effective spider repellent.

White vinegar: Mixed with water, white vinegar becomes a natural repellant you may use on common or suspected spider access points or areas of occupation.

What Does Not Repel Spiders

Lemon oil does not repel spiders, thus proving it ineffective in most cases. There are many sources online that cite lemon oil as a true deterrent, but according to the research published in the Journal of Economic Entomology, lemon oil as an effective spider repellant is a myth. Boo.

Other natural extracts have been proven effective to repel spiders, insects, and rodents not mentioned in the above study. These alternative solutions include the following:

  • Citronella – Not just for mosquitoes! When combined with other ingredients, the strong fragrance of citronella helps deter spiders.
  • Isopropyl alcohol – Strong smell that when combined with other ingredients such as thyme and lemongrass oil create an effective repellent.
  • Citrus oil. Citrus contains a powerful scent that most critters, insects, and spiders are annoyed by. Remember, spiders depend on their sense to survive, when something is too overpowering for their senses, they will not stick around.
  • Cats. Cats are wonderful spider eliminators. They view spiders as a game predator and prey and almost always win. If you notice more curled-up dead spiders around the house, you can more than likely thank your cat(s).
  • Common pesticide sprays. You can walk or click into any hardware, grocery, or online store and find many sprays to eliminate spiders. Certain products work better on certain types of spiders, but overall are effective. 

The chemicals used in these pesticides are strong, so be sure to read and follow the directions on the label carefully.

If you’d like, take a look at the best outdoor sprays for spiders here.

Are Spiders More Active at Night?

There are studies strongly suggesting most spiders are active at night. One particular study published in the Journal of Comparative Physiology reports the wandering spider will depend on mechano-sensory systems for mating and capturing prey. The spider’s vision involved in the study was a very minor factor.

Nocturnal operations related to prey works well for many spider species. The process of finding food varies with different species of spiders, but waiting patiently is the most commonly utilized. 

We’ve all seen spiders waiting patiently in their web, but active-hunting spiders are also very patient, often sitting still for long periods waiting for prey to crawl or creep by.

Some species of spiders are more active between March and October, such as the Brown Recluse spider.

Orb weaving spiders are found throughout all of the United States, Canada, and even Hawaii. Their colors are bright, vibrant, and quite alarming when stumbled upon unexpectedly. 

Some species of orb-weaving spiders are diurnal. These species of orb weavers attract prey by placing debris with pleasant fragrance within their webs. It was also reported that the diurnal orb-weaving spider’s appearance alone attracts prey. 

Nocturnal orb-weaving spiders do not feature the bright colors that the diurnal spider has. So color can be a good indicator if a spider is active at night or not.

How To Get Rid Of Black House Spiders

A major difference exists between eliminating spiders you see in and around your home and getting rid of them. The most common spiders are black, and if you are unlucky, have a red hourglass on their backs. 

Those types of spiders are the ones you do not want to get comfortable with. Black widow spiders are nocturnal and tend to avoid humans at all times, which is the good news. 

Black widows burrow themselves away from plain sight and are more active at night. They have also been known to dig holes in the dirt to give birth and tend to their young. On the flip side of things, spiders are great at insect control and play a major part in the circle of life.

Black Widow, Latrodectus hasselti, female at rest on web.
Black Widow, Latrodectus hasselti, female at rest on web.

Generally, spiders are much more afraid of humans than humans are of them. Hard to believe, I know! The worst enemy of spiders is other spiders. 

It is important to exercise caution because like all creatures, a bite or attack is conducted through defense mechanisms. You should never handle a spider with your bare hands or skin.

Spiders carry the potential to be venomous. This is more than enough reason to remove and exterminate them. The following is a list of effective, proven, and highly related products:

  1. Harris Spider Glue-Traps (2-Pack). Harris brand glue traps are easy to assemble and are used by professional exterminators. This product is rated for both residential and commercial usage. Pesticide-free and can be placed along walls, in the basement, under furniture, and in the attic.

2. Nature’s Element Web Out Insecticide. Created with thyme oil, lemongrass oil, citronella, vinegar, water, and sodium lauryl sulfate, Web Out is advertised as a web removal first, then a spider, insect, and surface fungus eliminator second.

3. Ortho Home Defense Insect Killer. Using an exterior barrier defense, Ortho’s Home Defense Insect Killer does an effective job of keeping spiders and insects outside of your home.

If you’re interested, you can read our piece on how to keep spiders out of your shower and bathroom.

Are Spiders Nocturnal And Active At Night? Our Conclusion!

Studies show that most spider species in North America are indeed nocturnal. Their movements are motivated by the cover of darkness as they prey and find mates. 

Both the web-weaving spider and hunter spider enjoy the nighttime. A spider’s vision is not a dominant sense for any species of spider, as they rely on vibrations for sound and smell through organs in their legs.

Yes, a large percentage of spiders are nocturnal and they are quite active at night. It is best to keep up with home maintenance where no extensive opportunities are available for spiders to enter. 

The more unattended dark areas of your home create more opportunities for spiders to nest. Using pesticides or organic products mentioned above will help remove and repel spiders in the future. 

Performing the necessary research for which product or ingredient you wish to use will provide the best feedback for what will work best. Asking a friend, family member, or neighbor if they have had or have experienced similar spider issues is also a great way to gather insight. 

If you’d rather have a professional handle your spider problem you can use our nationwide pest control finder to get in contact with a professional for free!

References

Andreas Fischer, Manfred Ayasse, Maydianne C B Andrade, Natural Compounds as Spider Repellents: Fact or Myth?, Journal of Economic Entomology, Volume 111, Issue 1, February 2018, Pages 314–318, https://doi.org/10.1093/jee/tox339

Fenk, L.M., Hoinkes, T. & Schmid, A. Vision as a third sensory modality to elicit attack behavior in a nocturnal spider. J Comp Physiol A 196, 957–961 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00359-010-0575-8

Miller, M. (2017, March 22). Biologists say wolf spiders have a wider range of personality than once believed. Phys.org. Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://phys.org/news/2017-03-biologists-wolf-spiders-wider-range.html.

Václav, R., & Prokop, P. (2006). Does the appearance of orbweaving spiders attract prey? Annales Zoologici Fennici, 43(1), 65–71. http://www.jstor.org/stable/23735900

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