Saturday, May 25, 2013

Marking My Territory -- A Lesson from Mother Nature

If you know me at all or have read some of my past posts, you know that I am a Pagan. In general, Pagans are very respectful of Mother Nature and all her creations: we are tree-huggers, animal lovers, and dirt worshippers.We honor the sun, the moon, the sky, the sea, and the earth, and we honor all those that live under the sun and the moon,within the sky and the sea, and upon the earth. But I have to be honest: there is a group of beings that I dislike intensely, commonly known as "the creepy-crawlies." Insects and arachnids. Bugs and spiders. Ick. (Honeybees, ladybugs, dragonflies, and butterflies are exempt from this status. They are either useful or pretty or both and not icky at all.)

Spiders in particular skeeve me out. Yes, I know, spiders trap and eat other bugs. You know what else eats bugs? Frogs, bats, birds, lizards, ladybugs, dragonflies, hedgehogs. You know what I'd rather have around me than spiders to eat bugs? You guessed it! Frogs, bats, birds, lizards, ladybugs, dragonflies, hedgehogs. And besides, I've lived through two spider bites: first was a brown recluse bite when I was at college in Texas, second was a minor bite I got last year (the spiders in NH are not as deadly as the ones out west). To be honest, surviving uterine cancer was easier and less painful than living through a brown recluse bite. So yeah, I'm just so not into spiders. I don't want them near me, but I also hate killing them and disposing of their creepy hairy corpses. That's why this year I decided to try making some spider repellent, to keep those little eight-legged bastards out of my space. You know, kinda like how animals in the wild mark their territory by peeing, but not quite as, ahem, primal.

My homemade spider repellent spray, complete with misspelled label! Yay me!
I happened to learn that there are a number of essential oils that spiders find unpleasant. Among those are peppermint, eucalyptus, lavender, citrus, citronella, cinnamon, tea tree, and clove. I also happen to have several of these already on hand because I use them to make soaps and potpourris; you should be able to find one or more of these essential oils at any health food store, or in your regular grocery store if they have a health food section. Most craft stores that carry soap making supplies also carry essential oils. Here's a simple recipe to make your own spider repellent spray. You'll need a spray bottle; you can buy a new one, or you can reuse an empty spray bottle from any household cleaner, such as Windex (make sure it is clean!). Add 1/2 to 1 ounce of your chosen essential oil to the bottle, then add a small squirt of dish soap (any scent will work, but citrus or lavender will make the spray more effective). Now fill the bottle with tap water and shake gently to mix everything up (it will make a bit of suds, but the suds will die down after a bit). To use, simply spray in areas that spiders may lurk, such as woodpiles, fireplaces, and closets; also spray around your windows, doors, and baseboards, or anywhere else where spiders may get in. So far it seems to be working -- I haven't seen any spiders in the areas that have been sprayed. I don't know how long the spray stays effective, though. I'm sure I'll need to respray eventually, I'm just not sure whether the timeline will be weeks or months. We'll see.

Next thing to try is homemade boric acid ant baits!