By Sue Carr

Fall is by far my favorite season. I love sipping hot cider, sniffing cinnamon apple goodies baking in the oven, crunching through a vibrant array of leaves on a crisp day, and snuggling by a fire pit with a cup of hot chocolate.

But there is one thing I despise about fall: the migration of spiders into my basement.

SueCarr-spidersMy hubby will tell you how skeevy I get about bugs, particularly spiders—most especially the meaty, creepy variety we get in our basement that cast shadows and crunch audibly when you step on them. I considered including a photo of one, but as I don’t think Mrs. Green wants me frightening off any of her arachnophobic readers, I decided to spare you. (Plus I’m usually too busy screaming and beating madly at the thing with a shoe to stop and snap a pic.)

In the past, we’ve sprayed the outside perimeter of our house to stop the buggers from getting in using a chemical concoction I’d rather not ponder. Although the instructions say the product can be used both inside and out, we’ve never sprayed inside. I’ve never loved the idea of spraying pesticides along the floors where my kids pick up toys and spilled Cheerios and whatnot. So I’ve begun seeking out more natural solutions for pest control, mostly for the sake of my kids and cats. For example, through some internet research I’ve learned that ants won’t cross a chalk line. Weird but true. So when we found ants coming in through one of our kitchen outlets last summer, I simply drew a chalk line around the outlet. The ants would run around and around within the chalk, but they wouldn’t come any further. I also learned that corn meal doesn’t agree with their systems, and that if you leave a pile of it out for them to take back to the colony, it will kill them. I have no idea if this is actually true as I never managed to attach an ant-cam to one of them to tote back to their hill so I could witness the carnage, but I figured it was worth a try, so little piles of corn meal sat on my counter for weeks afterward. We’ve also treated large, outdoor ant colonies by pouring boiling water over them, which does seem to significantly reduce their numbers (though whether it eliminated them entirely is difficult to say—again, no ant-cam).

And so, with spider-in-the-basement season upon us, I’ve decided to try out a natural spider deterrent: essential oil. Apparently quite a few aromas will deter spiders, including peppermint, citrus, tea tree, lavender, and cinnamon. I’ve decided to try cinnamon to embrace one of my favorite fall scents in my otherwise dank and dingy basement. The recipe, according to wikiHow, goes like this:

Mix 5 drops of your essential oil and 5 drops of natural dish detergent in one quart of water. Pour into a spray bottle and spray areas where you have seen spiders, as well as likely points of entry (doorways, windows, wall seams, etc.). Repeat weekly.

SueCarr-spiders2Yes, I understand that spiders are vital predators and that without them we’d all be overtaken by the bug kingdom a thousand times over (my husband reminds me of this regularly). Bully for them. As far as I’m concerned they can keep their vital, bug-killing activities to the great outdoors. I’m armed with cornmeal and chalk, thank you very much.

I’ll update you all on the results of this experiment. If nothing else, the scent will be an improvement over the cat boxes.

Sue Nelko Carr is a freelance writer and editor, and a full-time mother, trying to live a greener life in Pittsburgh, PA.