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Black Widow Repellent?

I'm trying to track down a natural and safe way to repel Black Widow Spiders.

While expanding her garden, an OG reader from Virginia found several black widows under the railroad ties bordering her garden. She obviously wants to get rid of them, but doesn't necessarily want to kill them.

Thoughts?
 
(Curious look) Why would she not want to kill them? Obviously they do have some use and purpose, but that's like digging a weed and replanting it. Having said that, you can always remove the habitat in which they reside.
 
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Oh Lord - would I love something like that (so long as it was livestock safe)!!!!

I have two Rubbermaid water troughs - one 150 gallons; one 100 gallons - & when I tip them to scrub them out & refill I invariably find several female "Widows" awaiting me. Since I'm already a serious arachnophobe, this results in the usual freakout "spider killing dance" (assuming I'm in boots & not sneakers). Once there was one hiding under the curled rim of the trough & I just missed putting my hand on it. Thought I was going to faint - lol!

Don't get me wrong - I know how helpful spiders are to the environment. And I've managed to control my phobia to the point that I can usually release small housebound types outdoors. But big indoor "hairies", Black Widows, & Brown Recluse (the absolute worst if you get bitten) get the axe here, I'm afraid.

A non-toxic repellent would be lovely.
 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"My body is a temple - unfortunately, it's a fixer-upper."

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"And no, I'm NOT being snarky."

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Zone 7a, Culpeper, Virginia

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We don't really have them here... except the occasionally hitchhiker from somewhere else... but the poisonous spiders (or snakes, which we also don't have) are the exceptions to my "no-kill" list. While both spiders and snakes have their place in the larger ecosystem... I think those that are highly poisonous can go bye-bye.

I remember back in SoCal we had the HUGEST rattlesnakes (and a bazillion of them!). We had many close calls and one did manage to get the dog (he survived, but the after-effects eventually got him). SO glad we don't have them here!
 
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I've got the black widows around here, too. The best repellent I know of is not giving them a place to hide. Since they like to camp out in the dark, moist, cool spots, I just try to keep wood piles and that sort of thing well away from wherever I am most active.

And when I need to work in the wood pile or somewhere the spiders can hide, I just wear gloves and boots and long pants.

I don't necessarily mind venomous snakes right now (though I'd certainly feel differently if I had kids playing in the yard), I absolutely don't mind killing any black widows I find in the yard.

I'll probably be buying something like this:
http://www.organic-gardening-s...sp+%26+Hornet+Killer
to deal with the spiders and the wasps building nests on my eaves. I have used similar products in the past and they work well.
 
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Ditto what mtbikernate said. The only places I've ever found them in my yard, both here in KY and back in TX, was where they had some form of shelter. Their webs aren't particularly sturdy, and they seem to prefer something overhead to offer protection from a heavy rain.

Eric, it's a good idea for folks to familiarize themselves with what the juvenile form of widows--they look a little different from the adults. Lovely actually--I caught a couple and kept them in a jar on my desk back in high school for s few days, not realizing what they were. Here's a link to a photo.

http://bugguide.net/node/view/309026/bgimage
 
__________________________ {=^;^=} Living the good life amid the wildlife.
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She might try filling any spaces under the ties with dirt so they don't have sheltered space to build webs.
 

Abigail, all 9 kids grown and 16 little gardeners: what a harvest!

Zone 7a, Far Rockaway, New York

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As a biologist that has worked with spiders for the last ten years, I do get calls from people about widows in their yards/gardens. There is no "repellent" available as far as putting a substance down that keeps them away. If you find a company selling one, it's bogus. Two rules of thumb: (1) minimize habitat...they like sheltered nooks and crannies, such as can be found in woodpiles and rock borders, which are usually found in/around gardens. (2) Squish them. Or spray them with soapy water. Get rid of their nests as soon as you spot it, even if it means taking the rock border of the flower bed partially apart to get at them. These guys have a fairly nasty venom so always be on the lookout!
 
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I'll have to say, I have black widow spiders all over the place because I have piles of 6 packs and pots for starting seeds, they are always in them. But I have never had one bite me or be aggressive. I have other insects here that do bite, but even if you put a stick near them, they tend to run away.

You can use an old dust buster vacuum and go after spiders of all sorts, if it has some dust already in it they get coated and can't really move much. Empty it in a bucket of water, they can't swim at all.
 
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I appreciate your help.
 
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Contrary to popular myth Black widow Spiders are pretty docile and will not harm a human unless the spider is threatened. I have heard stories of thousands of people dieing from the Black Widow Spider bite but nothing available supports that. Most people get somewhat uncomfortable from a bite, if that does happen, but treatment is simple if you go to a doctor.
As usedtobesweetpea stated given half a chance the spider will run away from you rather than attack, the arachnaphoid movies not withstanding.
 

The sign of a good gardener is not a green thumb, it is brown knees.

West central Michigan along the lakeshore.

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I would have to respectfully disagree with some of what Kimm1 is saying (take no offense, I mean no harm). Black widows aren't dumb--they know that there is little to gain from attacking something a few hundred times larger than they are. This is why when they sense you, generally they run away as fast as their eight legs can carry them. However, they can become defensive if they are defending a nest with eggs or young. Sometimes they bite when they sense small movement and think it's prey, or if you inadvertantly get a spider on you and it gets trapped/pressed between your skin and clothing (think a spider inside the arm of a long-sleeved shirt). A bite from these guys really depends on how much venom they get into you & your individual reaction, but it should always be treated seriously, as it is a neurotoxin and therefore usually has systemic instead of localized effects.
 
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I used to be a telephone installer, in an area w/ a lot of old apartment buildings. The telephone terminals all had black widows. I learned early that if you see one & deal w/ it, there won't be another w/in 3 ft. That's their territory & they defend it vigorously.
To kill them, we'd have a spray can. Doesn't mater what it sprays, as long as it's a compressed can. When the can sprays, the contents decompresses. That causes it to get very cold. If the spray nozzle has one of those extender tubes (like on a can of WD40), you can get very close to the spider & it'll freeze. The freezing kills the spider.

You might not like Black Widows, most people are afraid of spiders, because of the way they eat. But, credit where credit is due. We all know that the Black Widow usually kills & consumes her mate. But, did you know that he is her last meal. After she mates, she builds her egg sac. Then, she guards it, instead of eating. Then, when she detects movement in the egg sac, she punctures herself & injects herself w/ her own venum. She becomes her babies first meal. You have to give the Black Widow for being a really great mom!

I've run into a lot of Widows in my yard. In the wood piles! I remember one on my arm. I was wearing gloves & a flannel shirt. She was just staring at me! I flicked her off w/ my finger.
 
Planning to be a Cancer survivor!!! No trees were killed or animals harmed in the sending of this message; however a great many electrons were horribly inconvenienced.
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allmuxedup, glad to see you post. I've been praying for you.

Dirt
 
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I must say I must also have to respectfully disagree with allmuxedup. I don't think I've ever had a black widow mother die before/directly after the spiderlings emerge from the egg sac in my lab--they usually last well into the fall. I have (& other people as well) collected black widows with dozens of baby spiderlings in the wild, so they obviously hang around for at least a few weeks after the babies hatch.

But back to Eric's original question...I think that there were some good suggestions here...spray them with compressed air, spray them with water, remove habitat....hope you get rid of the suckers.
 
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1. Learn from good reliable sources about what you perceive as the problem.
2. Start any control program of anything by, if possible, changing the environment. Never, Ever spray anything without knowing the short term and long trange affects of that.
Much of what we perceive as problems is not really and any problem that we see is most likely due to our misunderstanding. Much more often than not we create the problems we have because we do not understand out environment.
 

The sign of a good gardener is not a green thumb, it is brown knees.

West central Michigan along the lakeshore.

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I wish there was a repellent. We live in a trailer and the whole underneath is full of black widows. Maybe in some places they stay three feet from each other, but here they get by on a square foot or less. When we had cable tv, the cable man refused to go under to hook us up.

We have to be careful when moving rocks or empty pots. But unlike our neighbors, we don't have widows in the house.

When watching a show on deadly spiders in Australia, I saw the Australian government encouraged people to let daddy long legs live because they like to eat black widows. I wasn't sure if it works in the US, but we have lots of healthy daddy long legs in our house, and no black wdows
 
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Oh, that "they stay 3 feet away from each other" is total nonsense. When I flip my horse troughs over I can always count on finding 3 or more Widows, & the troughs really aren't all that large space-wise.
 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"My body is a temple - unfortunately, it's a fixer-upper."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"And no, I'm NOT being snarky."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Zone 7a, Culpeper, Virginia

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I, too, have heard that daddy long-legs are predators of all sorts of spiders.
We have a grated drain across our driveway. When I raise the grates to clean it our periodically I can always count on seeing a black window on each end of the drain. There are a couple who nest in a rocky bed in the yard but I only see them if I'm rearranging mulch. So long as they are outdoors I don't bother them. I just remember to wear gloves when working where I might encounter one.
I find all spiders to be fascinating creatures. But having suffered a brown recluse bite, I'll smash them anytime I encounter them.
 
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