Does peppermint oil repel spiders? Studies suggest yes, and even better, at least one other essential oil, and chestnuts (yes, chestnuts) can keep daddy long-legs and his pals at bay.
So, how did peppermint oil become a go-to for saying bye-bye to arachnids?
For thousands of years, people have praised essential oils for their fragrant aromas, healing properties, and promotion of overall wellness for mind, body, and spirit. But it’s not all spa days and first aid. Now these highly concentrated, plant-derived solutions also can help with household issues, such as pest control.
Mentha piperita, or peppermint oil, is one of those essential oils, and it’s said to repel spiders. And it turns out, science backs up this claim.
A 2017 article in the Journal of Economic Entomology published findings that yes, peppermint oil deters spiders. During the study, two spider species (of three tested) avoided entering areas sprayed with this oil 75 percent of the time.
So, as a barrier spray peppermint oil is a definite option. There is no evidence, however, that this oil could make a spider leave a web it’s already built.
But Why Do Spiders Dislike Peppermint So Much?
The “Spidey senses” of real-life arachnids include smell, which they experience through special organs on their legs.
There’s no specific study that explains why peppermint repels, while another oil does not, but it’s believed the strong menthol odor is just too intense for a spider.
Even in nature, insects co-opt this smell to fend off spider attacks. The stick bug, for example, releases a milky substance with a sharp peppermint aroma to fend off spiders.
You, too, can create your own peppermint oil repellent. To make an aerosol repellant, add three to four drops of peppermint oil to water in a spray bottle, and mist it around your home. Be careful not to spray the solution on fabrics or wood as it can leave oil stains.
Another way to fill rooms with this scent? Add those few drops of peppermint oil into a diffuser (see photo above) or vaporizer. Alternatively, try placing peppermint tea bags or cotton balls soaked in the oil in different rooms of your house.
Outside, plant peppermint near entryways to help keep spiders from entering your home.
Is Peppermint Oil Safe to Use Around Kids and Pets?
Peppermint is generally considered safe for people when used properly, which is why it’s found a lot in beverages, massage oils, toothpastes, and mouthwashes.
But if you have young children or live with people who suffer from asthma or other respiratory problems, the spray, diffuser, and vaporizer methods are not suitable.
When it comes to pets, avoid using peppermint oil in general, as it is toxic to dogs, cats, and birds. Pets can accidentally ingest plant leaves and tea bags left in their paths or roll around a treated area and irritate their skin. Even breathing in the peppermint smell can cause illness, such as aspiration pneumonia.
Other Essential Oils that Repel Spiders
Websites abound touting the use of other essential oils as spider repellents, but there is no scientific evidence to prove those claims.
For example, entomologists in the 2017 study found that lemon oil is not a deterrent.
There is one other essential oil that may prove useful — clove oil. Clemson University’s Cooperative Extension service cites eugenol, a component of clove oil, as a type of pesticide.
Note: Eugenol, which is derived from cloves, can be toxic to human skin cells, though it is used as an ingredient in certain retail pest control sprays. Also, like many other essential oils, cloves are not safe for pets, so keep that in mind before using.
Pet-friendly and child-friendly natural home remedies to deter spiders do exist, though — one of which is chestnuts.
And as luck (well, science) would have it, of the three natural substances tested in the Journal of Economic Entomology study, chestnut fruits were also determined successful at repelling spiders. Place them near baseboards, windowsills, and entryways.
When to Call a Professional
Spiders pose no real threat to humans. They rarely ever bite, preferring to flee rather than fight us if they feel threatened. Spiders also do good. These eight-legged arachnids are also nature’s little pest controllers, dining on insects (and even other spiders) that may enter our homes.
Still, we totally understand not wanting to share your space with creepy crawlies of any kind. If the remedies listed above don’t work as effectively as you’d like; or, you’ve got a full-scale spider infestation on your hands, call a pest control professional near you for help.
Main Photo: Kathy Zinn / NeedPix