Before Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet, she should have done her homework. Small, grassy mounds like the one on which she took her rest are prime locations for grass spiders to nest.
So, how can you get rid of grass spiders? A better question is whether you should, as these fast spiders kill other insects and pose no real threat to you.
But if you’d rather not see grass spider webs sparkling in the morning dew, mowing and keeping your outdoor areas free of trash and overgrowth are the first steps toward getting rid of these eight-legged arachnids.
What are Grass Spiders?
From the family Agelenidae, meaning they build funnel-shaped webs, grass spiders are brown and striped and grow to about 1 inch in length. They live in tall grasses and other ground covers, as well as in bushes and shrubs.
Using their long spinnerets, which resemble a tail, these spiders craft nonsticky nests hoping to catch a meal, as they hide deep inside the narrow passageways. Once an insect wanders onto the web, the fast-moving grass spider will feel the motion and rush to immobilize its prey.
Grass spiders, like many of their kin, are venomous, meaning they produce toxins to take down their victims. This venom is not harmful to humans, and a bite from a grass spider is very rare.
The same swift pace a grass spider uses to subdue its meal is also used to escape danger posed by larger animals and people.
Problems Caused by Grass Spiders
Naturally evasive, these spiders won’t cause too many problems for you. Grass spiders are quite beneficial, controlling lawn insect populations, which left unchecked, could wreak havoc on grasses.
Too many grass spider webs, though, can make a lawn look unkempt. And, if conditions are right, there’s a slim chance a grass spider could bite.
During outdoor play, for example, if a grass spider is accidentally disturbed, it may bite in defense — and that’s a hard maybe. While the bite could cause itchiness, redness, and swelling, medical attention is not necessary.
The real problem lies more with the insects attracting the spiders to your property. Removing food particles, sealing outdoor trash cans, and cleaning up spills can help deter insects, and in return, take away any reason for these spiders to move in.
How to Protect Yourself from Grass Spiders in Your Yard
While it is rare for a grass spider to bite you, there’s nothing wrong with taking extra precautions, just in case.
To start, outfit yourself with the right gear. Wear a long-sleeved T-shirt, long pants, socks, closed-toed shoes, and gloves. Be sure to inspect the shoes and gloves if they’ve been stored in the garage, so you don’t unintentionally stir up a hidden spider.
Once outside, look over the area you’re about to dig into for signs of spider activity, and if you notice any webs, brush them away with a broom.
Spraying spider repellent on your clothing and any exposed areas of skin is a good tip, too. According to certified pest control operator Hussam Bin Break, you can make your own spider repellent using water and a few drops of an essential oil, such as peppermint.
How to Get Rid of Grass Spiders
The occasional web on your lawn is nothing to fuss over. You can leave it be, sweep it with a broom, or wash it away with a water hose. But, if you’re worried your yard will become overrun with these habitats, consider the following:
All-natural grass spider control
“An ounce of prevention,” as the proverb begins, “is worth a pound of cure.” Stop an infestation before it has a chance to begin through routine lawn maintenance and consistent cleaning.
Tall grasses, weeds, and brush piles make great homes for these spiders. Human food remnants attract insects these spiders consume.
You can also opt for diatomaceous earth, a substance made from the fossils of aquatic organisms. It’s nontoxic and only harmful to arachnids and insects.
According to the University of Oregon Extension service, “Diatomaceous earth causes insects to dry out and die by absorbing the oils and fats from the cuticle of the insect’s exoskeleton. Its sharp edges are abrasive, speeding up the process.”
Certain repellents, such as peppermint and chestnuts have shown some efficacy in warding off spiders, so spraying your lawn with a mix of water and these essential oils may work.
You also could plant a chestnut tree or peppermint around your yard. Most likely, though, this will keep spiders away from those plants, rather than your entire yard.
Pesticides to control grass spiders
Pesticides, which can also kill pollinators and other beneficial insects, should be your last resort to get rid of grass spiders. Another reason to avoid pesticides? Pesticides also can harm people and pets.
“Be sure you need it,” advises the University of California’s Integrated Pest Management program.
UC’s guidelines stipulate: “Verify that the organism you seek to control is really causing lasting damage, and research alternative management methods. Keep in mind that most pests cannot be entirely eliminated — even with pesticides.”
Generally, experts warn against actively working to rid lawns of these arachnids.
When to Call a Pest Control Professional
Whether you’ve got a large-scale grass spider infestation or you’d rather someone else come out and take care of the dirty work, call a pest control pro near you. A certified pest control specialist will come to your home and develop the best plan of attack.
Soon you will be back sitting on your tuffet without fear of grass spiders or other pests.