Solve Your Spider Problem With This Stunning Fall Flower

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Solve Your Spider Problem With This Stunning Fall Flower

Spiders are often associated with the fall season and Halloween because many ancient cultures recognized them as mystical, magical, or evil beings. However, there is another reason why we tend to associate spiders with autumn. As the seasons change and temperatures cool, spiders become more active. In the fall, many male spiders begin their search for a mate, while females look for a warm place to survive through the winter. This makes them more likely to wander into your home or reside in porches, basements, and garages during this time of year. Although fake spiders might make awesome creepy-cute Halloween décor, you probably don’t want real spiders hanging out on your porch all season long. Luckily, a traditional fall plant can help you keep spiders away from your home while adding a touch of festive magic to your doorstep: the humble chrysanthemum.

Chrysanthemums contain natural compounds that are excellent at repelling various insects, arachnids, and other creepy-crawly pests. Except for a handful of species, spiders are mostly solitary creatures, so it’s rare that a true “infestation” occurs in a home. Still, by placing a few chrysanthemums around your porch or even in a vase indoors, you can beautify your space while protecting your home from any potential eight-legged invaders.

Chrysanthemums keep creepy spiders away

Red chrysanthemum blooms

crystaldream/Shutterstock

How could this popular fall flower possibly repel spiders? Chrysanthemum flowers contain high amounts of pyrethrins, a group of six chemicals that naturally repel and even kill spiders and other bugs. These pyrethrins are so powerful that they are often extracted from chrysanthemum plants in order to make pesticides, insecticides, and even flea, mite, and lice treatments. Spiders have sensory organs on their legs and pedipalps that allow them to “smell” or “taste” the environment around them. Most spiders and other creepy-crawlies will give chrysanthemums a wide berth because they can sense their odorous, noxious pyrethrins.

Spiders serve an important role in the environment, so repelling them with chrysanthemums is a responsible and effective way to avoid killing them. If a brave spider tries to nest in your chrysanthemums anyway, the pyrethrins will wreak havoc on its nervous system and can eventually cause paralysis and death. While the pyrethrin compounds in chrysanthemums may be detrimental to spiders and other garden insects, they biodegrade quickly and generally pose no risk to warm-blooded birds and mammals. However, according to the ASPCA, if your pet happens to snack on the whole chrysanthemum plant, it may experience some mild symptoms and digestive upset.

How to use chrysanthemums as a spider repellent

Porch steps with potted chrysanthemums

A pot of blooming chrysanthemums will not only look gorgeous on your front or back porch; it’s also an ideal place to grow them if you want to stop spiders in their tracks. Keeping chrysanthemums near doorways, windows, cracks, and crevices will make these hiding places less appealing and prevent spiders from wandering into your home. Another brilliant option is to use chrysanthemums as a companion plant in your garden, where they’ll protect against not only spiders but also a variety of other nasty pests.

What about when peak chrysanthemum season is over? Plan ahead by using the flowers themselves to make your own powdered spider repellent. When your flowers are in full bloom, snip a few of the biggest, fullest heads from their stems. These will contain the highest amount of pyrethrins. Set the flowers out to dry in the sun or on a drying mat indoors with plenty of airflow. When all of the moisture has evaporated from the flowers, use a mortar and pestle to grind them into a fine powder, then store the powder in a resealable container. When you notice spiders gathering in an area of your home or garden, sprinkle the chrysanthemum dust to get rid of them and keep them from coming back.

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.