7 Things That Scare Spiders (And How To Use Them)

Black spider on leaf.

You would think something with sharp fangs, eight legs, just as many eyes, and can wrap anything in a constricting, sticky, impossible to escape from web of silk, wouldn’t be afraid of anything. In reality, spiders have plenty things to be scared of!

Though fear is difficult to measure in spiders, they often run away from anything bigger than they are. Spiders will typically run away from humans and animals such as birds, other spiders, and larger insects. They also dislike the color blue, specifically Tarheel blue.

Although it may be hard to believe, spiders are more scared of you than you are of them. We are more of a threat because we are so much bigger, and we have an arsenal of tactics at our disposal to eliminate them. Keep reading to find out all the things spiders fear and how to keep them away for good!

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Spiders Are Afraid Of Humans

Spider on spiderweb basking in the spring sunshine. Bottom view.

Scientists cannot measure fear in small creatures such as spiders, insects, and other little animals accurately. It’s difficult to see visual cues like we can in people and sometimes our pets. 

We can’t see their pupils dilate, their palms don’t get sweaty—probably because they don’t have palms—and we can’t measure their increased heartbeat. We certainly know what frightens us, and what fear feels like. Even our pets can portray fear to us.

They may shake and shiver, their eyes will get wide, and they might run away, or drool.

So, when defining what will scare a spider, we have to assume when it runs away from something, it must be afraid of that “something”. 

Many people in the world have an extreme fear of spiders, also known as arachnophobia. There are only a few spiders in the United States we truly need to fear, the black widow, and the brown recluse, as these are the only spiders that can do us major harm. 

Many other spiders aren’t even able to penetrate our skin with their fangs because they are so small. In reality – most aren’t even an issue.

In other parts of the world, people have a reason to fear some spiders, some of the most dangerous spiders are the Sydney funnel-web Spider, the redback spider—both of which are found in Australia—and the Brazilian wandering spider found in Central and South America. 

All of that notwithstanding, almost all spiders will run away from humans at first sight. We tower over even the largest spiders, and it doesn’t take much to step on them, squish them with our hands, (a newspaper, shoe, broom, or whatever is handy), or spray them with a pesticide (you can view our list of best spider sprays here.)

Of course, other spiders don’t seem to get the hint, and they think they are safe in their webs. You’ve probably seen spiders hanging out in the corner of your room on the web they made.

It’s then they get scared and try to run away from you. Even though by then, it’s too late. 

You can keep spiders away by cleaning up any webs you find in the house. Vacuuming is a great way because if the spider is still there, you trap it inside the machine and clean off the webs. 

Regular cleaning under and behind furniture will also keep spiders away. They like to hide in areas that don’t see much traffic and, of course, don’t get cleaned often as this can also attract the insects they prey on. 

Move out the couch and chairs, clean behind the entertainment center, move appliances and clean behind them, and vacuum up any egg sacs you see to keep the babies from hatching and making more spiders in your house. 

Just being active in cleaning, preventing insects from coming in, and cleaning in areas that see little traffic will help reduce the amount of spiders in your house, and keep others away.

If you’d like to learn more, take a peak at our article on why spiders aren’t afraid of humans (at first.)

Spiders Don’t Like Bigger Bugs

Spider wasp (Priocnemis vulgaris) attacking spider.

In nature, if it’s bigger than you, then it probably wants to eat you or take over what you have. Though spiders have plenty of defense mechanisms, there’s always something that can override those defenses. 

Centipedes will eat spiders. These long, segmented carnivores will eat nearly any other bug they can catch, and that includes spiders. They often hide out in damp areas like mulch beds, around rotting wood piles, and crawlspaces. 

It’s not desirable to attract other pests, especially ones that can bite or sting, to get rid of pests. So, if you see centipedes and spiders around your house, call a pest control service. 

There are other ways to prevent and repel spiders naturally using essential oils and scents spiders hate.

Scorpions will eat spiders when they can catch them. Scorpions, like centipedes, will eat anything they can catch in their pincers and can immobilize with their potent venom. Naturally, spiders are afraid of scorpions.

One predatory insect spiders hate you can attract without fear is the praying mantis. These insects will eat many nuisance bugs like spiders, crickets, grasshoppers, and flies.

Praying mantises don’t bother humans, they will try to run away from you, and they don’t have any venom you have to worry about.

They are one of nature’s bug equalizers. To attract the praying mantis to your yard, plant shady, low-growing plants such as marigolds, angelica, cosmos, and herbs like dill and fennel.

Spiders, I imagine, must be deathly afraid of wasps. Especially the spider wasp. The reason being these female wasps will attack and sting a spider.

The sting does not eliminate the spider, it only paralyzes it. The wasp sometimes snips the legs off the spider to make it easier to move, then it takes the spider into a small burrow it has dug out, lays an egg on it, and goes out to find another spider. This is when the nightmare truly starts.

The wasp egg soon hatches and the larval wasp eats the spider alive, often saving the vital organs for last, just so the spider lives longer through the horror-movie-esque ordeal.

Spiders And Birds Don’t Mix

Another predatory animal that feeds on spiders is birds. There are plenty of insect-eating birds that either feed on spiders themselves, or snatch them up to feed to their growing babies. So it makes sense that spiders would be afraid of birds.

Some species of birds that will eat spiders include bluebirds, wrens, thrushes, sparrows, robins, swallows, and many more.

Adding bird feeders to your yard will help to attract birds that will help to reduce your spider population. Try adding suet cakes or mealworms to attract bug-eating birds like bluebirds, nuthatches, and wrens.

Try out this More Birds Squirrel-X Double Suet Feeder to attract spider-eating birds to your yard. This feeder is made to keep squirrels (they will eat an entire suet cake in a day) and large, bully birds like crows and starlings away.

Fill your suet feeders with cakes such as these Suet Plus Suet Cakes which have nuts, berries, and mealworms to attract insect-eating birds.

Adding birdhouses will also keep the insect-eating avians around, and they will have to collect more bugs when they have hungry chicks to feed. A bird sanctuary is not only pleasing to watch, but it will keep a lot of spiders away, and other insects away.

Bluebird houses are a great way to attract these insect demolishing birds. Try out a few of these Wild Wings Cedar Blue Bird Box House to attract them to your yard.

Spiders Don’t Like The Color Blue

Yes, its true! Spiders don’t like to see the color blue either. In the South, a favorite pastime is to sit on the porch with friends while drinking sweet, iced tea, lemonade, or adult beverages of choice. While hanging out and chatting with friends, you might notice a lot of their porch ceilings are painted light blue.

That’s not because “Tarheel blue” is the unofficial color of the South—unless you’re a UNC fan—it’s because that color wards off spiders and wasps.

Many Southerners have known this little secret for a long time. They may not have known the science behind it, but because the blue houses and porches seem to be spider free, they know it works.

You can knock the webs off your porch every day, but if you don’t get rid of the spiders, they will just keep spinning new webs every night (by the way, spiders are primarily nocturnal.) I tried this tactic for a while just to see if the spiders would get the hint.

Spoiler alert, they didn’t. In fact, my patience wore thin before they did. I thought after a week or so of having to make a whole new web every single night, they would give up and go somewhere less labor-intensive. It turns out spiders are way more forgiving and patient than I am.

If you have a problem with spiders and their webs hanging all over your house all year long, maybe you should visit your local paint store to pick out a nice, light blue color to show those spiders you mean business.

Spiders Are Afraid Of Mirrors

Okay, well, I might have made that up, but spiders are afraid of spiders, so it stands to reason they would be afraid of their images. Maybe they have a face that even the mother can’t love.

Bigger spiders will easily feed on smaller ones. Sometimes spiders from the same brood will eat their own siblings when food is scarce. I’d hate to see that family reunion. “Hey, remember Uncle Jack? Yeah, he was quite bitter. Literally, we ate him!”

Sometimes mother spiders even sacrifice themselves so they can feed their babies. I’m sure we have all heard about the black widow as well. The most famous incident is where the female black widow spider mates with and then eats the male.

As you can see, spiders should be more afraid of their own kind than we should be of them.

Spiders Are Frightened Of Family Pets

Whether your beloved pet is a dog, cat, bird, or even a lizard, spiders will be afraid of them. These animals are much bigger than spiders are, and they would do well to keep away from them.

I’ve regularly seen cats, and dogs kill bugs of all types, including spiders. Cats especially will smack them around, chase them, pounce, and play with spiders and bugs for an exceptionally long time. Sometimes they might even eat them.

Some pet birds will eat spiders with no effects. So will some lizard species, like chameleons and bearded dragons. These pets’ diets include insects, and they will typically eat spiders in the wild, so spiders have a lot to fear from these inhabitants.

Big Means Danger For Spiders

Basically, anything bigger than the spider has the potential to harm or destroy it. Naturally, they will either have a healthy enough dose of respect to run away from it, or they are truly afraid of bigger creatures.

Despite having multiple eyes on the top of their heads, spiders don’t have very good vision. You would think having that many eyes, they’d be able to see into the future, but it turns out that spiders only see shapes and very few colors.

Unfortunately, using predator decoys won’t work to frighten spiders away because they won’t be able to see them well enough to be afraid of them. Putting up signs won’t work either, since spiders can’t read either. What’s the use of having all those eyes?

They rely much more on other senses to hunt and to keep from being hunted. Their legs and the hairs on them are extremely sensitive. They can even pick up vibrations in the air, so they could sense your presence way before they even see you.

Some spiders also use their webs to help extend their sensitive reach. The tiny threads of silk can sense the slightest breeze or the smallest vibrations if something touches them. Even without being able to see very well, by the vibrations, they will know if they can eat it, or need to make a very hasty retreat.

Oh, and just to fill you in – if you swat at spiders, they very well may remember you.

How To Keep Spiders Away For Good

spider on a leaf (Araneus diadematus stellatus)

While you can scare spiders away for the moment by walking by them, waving your hands hysterically, or threatening them with spider wasps, they will only hide out in a tiny crevice or in their web, until the danger has passed. 

That’s if you haven’t gotten frightened yourself and ran out of the room. Scaring spiders away isn’t a very effective way of getting rid of them permanently. Usually, you will have to resort to more aggressive measures. 

You can spray them with pesticides, but who wants these chemicals in their house? You can squash them if they don’t hide in a tiny hole in the wall, or floor, or wherever. Then you have a nasty mess to clean up.

You can take a look at our step-by-step guide on keeping spiders away here or go for the shorter version below if you fancy!

Get Rid Of Food Sources

The best way to get rid of spiders and keep them away from your house is to remove their food. Spiders often come inside because they are chasing food into your house. When insects are attracted to your house, they will attract spiders.

Keep insects outside where they belong by sealing up your house and filling any cracks. Making sure you properly seal and caulk your windows and doors inside and out will go a long way to keep insects out of your house. 

Seal up any tiny holes from pipes or wires that come in or go out. Sometimes these holes have to be resealed because, over time, the sealant can become less effective. 

Clean Out The Clutter Room

Make sure you clean up any clutter as well. Spiders like to hide out in dark places, especially if insects are attracted to these areas. Spaces of clutter rarely get much action because we drop stuff off and leave it there for a while.

Maybe it’s holiday decorations, camping gear, or other things that only get used a few times a year. Making sure everything is organized, cleaned up, and dusted will go a long way to keep insects and spiders away. 

If you can, work on replacing cardboard boxes with plastic storage bins. Cardboard attracts several insects, even when it’s cleaned and orderly. Insects like silverfish, cockroaches, crickets, and termites will eat cardboard. 

When these critters get inside your home, spiders will follow. It is unfortunate spiders don’t clean up after themselves. They make their webs, then leave them everywhere for you to clean up. They drop mummified insect carcasses all over the floor, making your house look dirty even when it’s not.

Otherwise, spiders are beneficial because they help to get rid of insects that can cause damage to your house.

You can take a look at all the different ways that spiders get into your home here.

Sonic Devices Don’t Really Work

These super terrific, “just plug it in” devices were all the rage when I was a kid. Supposedly, they produced sonic sounds humans can’t hear, which would repel everything from moles and mice to spiders and insects.

While there might be some truth to them, studies show they don’t work nearly as well as they advertise. According to the University of Nebraska Institute of Agriculture, researchers have studied these sonic sound devices.

They found these products are not effective in eliminating or even repelling pests. The Federal Trade Commission had to warn many of these companies in the 1980s with false advertising because these products didn’t work.

Even with these lawsuits, these devices are still sold nearly everywhere you find pest control options.

While yes, theres evidence that ultrasonic repellents can work, it really depends on the specific ultrasonic frequency, which most go for a general approach.

Glue Boards To Stop Insects

One of the best, non-chemical ways to stop insects from getting far into your house is by using glue boards.

Glue boards are a cheap, easy way of trapping insect invaders. Mouse glue boards work for crawling insects as well as a way to properly identify your insect problem.

Final Thoughts

Yes, spiders are some of the freakiest looking creatures on this planet, but they are quite vulnerable to nearly everything in their environment.

With that being said, spiders are probably scared of most things that move. From humans to pets, birds that want to eat them, other spiders, and bigger insects are all threats to spider survival. 

By attracting some predators that aren’t afraid of spiders, they can help you keep spider numbers down.

Keeping bugs out of your house, managing clutter, and having a clean house will all help to keep spiders away from you, even if you feel you’re more afraid of spiders than they are of you!

References:

Vickers, Michael E., Madison L. Heisey, and Lisa A. Taylor. “Lack of neophobic responses to color in a jumping spider that uses color cues when foraging (Habronattus pyrrithrix).” Plos one 16.7 (2021): e0254865.

Judith Domínguez-Borràs, Sebastian Walter Rieger, Corrado Corradi-Dell’Acqua, Rémi Neveu, Patrik Vuilleumier, Fear Spreading Across Senses: Visual Emotional Events Alter Cortical Responses to Touch, Audition, and Vision, Cerebral Cortex, Volume 27, Issue 1, January 2017, Pages 68–82,.

Walker, Sean E., and Ann L. Rypstra. “Hungry spiders aren’t afraid of the big bad wolf spider.” Journal of Arachnology (2003): 425-427.

Pfannenstiel, Robert S. “Spider predators of lepidopteran eggs in south Texas field crops.” Biological Control 46.2 (2008): 202-208.

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