I’ve been asked more than once if I know how to get rid of spiders on a boat. And I didn’t . . . but trust a TBG reader to share a great tip when they learn it!
I just got this in an email from Christian, a boater from Oregon. Since I don’t have any spiders here in southern Florida, I haven’t tested his method. But I’m guessing it would work.
In his own words:
Just by accident I discovered a trick that I think is quite useful.
Here in the northwest we have a large amount of spiders that find their way into the cabin spaces of our boats. When gone for a few days or many times in the dark of the night they build their webs that I always seem to find with my face.
Yesterday coming back to the boat I found nearly a dozen new webs but all of them unoccupied with the spiders hiding in the cracks and crevices. I had left the boat closed up and as I was expecting company later lit a stick of incense.
Much to my amazement as the smoke drifted up a hiding spider rapidly dropped to the cabin sole. Armed with the stick of incense, I let the smoke go around all of the other web areas where smoked out of hiding I was able to capture all but one spider.
I am going to be a hero at the next dock meeting….
Yep, I think he will be. How to get rid of spiders is a pretty big deal. I HATE spider bites!
Was it any special type of incense? I’m wondering if that’s why people use sage smoke to “purify” a space? Great tip, thank you.
We put chestnuts on the floor in our basement and they keep the spiders away…might work on a boat. We put them near the door
David N. Parker says
She “captured” the spiders? Not on my boat 🙂 a good spider is a dead one, even then, far fro me 🙂
Jim Rohde says
I think that “captured” was a nice way of saying flattened!
Oh no. A good spider is a live one that captures flying bitey things.
Nikki Dowden says
Lynn Brownlow says
Sounds interesting, but to find one that I can still be around and be able to breath!
I get a spray bottle, fill it with vinegar & spray in all corners & places where spiders hang out. GONE, spiders hate vinegar & will leave. I have no spiders in my home or boat.
What kind of vinegar?
Carolyn Shearlock says
Since he didn’t say, I’d guess plain white vinegar will work. I buy it by the gallon for so much stuff on the boat.
Illana Vickers says
I had heard that Horse Chestnuts (Aesculus hippocastanum) also keep spiders at bay. I thought it was an old wives tale but thought that I had nothing to loose but trying it, as I hate spiders (a good spider is a dead one 🙂
I was pleasently surprised to realise that they work like a charm 🙂 I placed them all aound our bed and after being away from the boat for a couple of months, there was not a single spider web insight 🙂
The Horse Chestnuts give off an odour that spiders dislike and keep them away.
Charles A Peavey says
I’d be curious if it was the actual smoke and any smoke would do or ws it smoke from a specific scent of incense. One trick that I use which I learned from a local woman of knowledge of an Indian tribe is to use pepper tree leaves ion and around my boat, it has a nice smell and spiders and bugs avoid it completely. I change the pepper leaves annually.
The Boat Galley says
Interesting. I might try that too. Where do you get the leaves?
The Boat Galley says
Charles A Peavey says
Pepper trees are plentiful in our area in Northern California and I just pick them. The pepper is different than the normal black pepper found on the store shelves: it is much more pungent. I actually use the peppercorns for spicing it gives dishes a different flavor signature.
Gerald Hemming says
Spiders are carnivores and they eat other bugs. If you have spiders on your boat they are hunting the bugs that eat your boat. More to the point YOU HAVE BUGS, on your boat.
Tony Gariepy says
I have to agree with Gerald, there are usually no spiders where there is no food for them, i.e. other bugs…
Tom Geren says
What kind of bugs? I’ve seen nothing but largish DEAD roaches; far too big to get entangled. I’m not a fan of killing harmless spiders. I’ll try the incense.
Chris In Oregon says
Spiders build webs where THEY THINK they will have the best chance of sucess in catching Flying bugs. Black nats, no see-ums, common house flies, and mosquitoes all show up in our boats uninvited and often from smells our bodies put off. These bugs often follow two paths, they head to the light as in port holes, hatches and lamps or they follow a air current that has a smell in it. Spiders know this and build webs along the way to light or in the path of a air current.
Having spiders in your boat does not guarantee that there are other bugs in your boat besides the spiders.
Thanks, I’d much rather have the spiders than the noseeums, mossies, etc.
Robert Sayles says
This is true. I spray full strength vinagar once a month & they are GONE.
Pura Vida says
The vinegar doesn’t hurt the finish on anything on your boat?
Southern Belle says
you’ve not been on the Delta in California where they just run amok~ i grew up in florida and oMg bugs and i do not get a long as we speak about this i’m nauseated and jumpy~
living on a yacht i finally said nope i’m outta here you won’t let me spray i’m not coming in to clean either ~ and out i went lol~
MichaelAnne Beighley says
Cat flea collars will drive them off and keep them away for months at a time, even small bits of them. We wrap them around rail and stanchion bases and pad eyes, and stuff the the bits you cut off there inside the dodger and bimini sleeves, speakers and turnbuckle covers, – anywhere we see a web. We buy them less expensively in bulk on the web, and using the ends maximizes their value. Like any pesticide, you need to evaluate any risks for yourself; since we don’t handle them after putting them out, I’m comfortable using them, at least above deck.
Janice R says
Spiders do not like peppermint oil. Mix some with water in a spray bottle and spray around doors and hatches or anywhere you find them. Peppermint oil also keeps away rodents and other bugs. I had mice chewing the wiring and insulation out of my car. I started applying peppermint oil to a cotton pad and putting it under the hood and the problem stopped. When I actively used the peppermint oil in the house, I did not find spiders. But when I slacked off, they came back. Peppermint oil is common and found in stores, though I ordered mine from Amazon. One word of caution, wear gloves to protect your skin as the oil is very strong!
Watch out for peppermint oil if you have pets. It can eventually kill a cat. Something with their lungs can’t handle the odor. Nice to hear about flea collars. I think the dollar store has them. !!!
Peppermint oil works for us. We get tiny spiders here in southwest Florida. As soon as I see them I put peppermint oil on a makeup remover pad and wipe around doors and hatches…no more spiders!
Paul Schroder says
Ortho Home Defense. You can get it at most big box stores and hardware stores. It comes in a gallon bottle with a sprayer and hose.
You spray this on everything: rigging sail covers, lifelines and any areas inside that spiders line to build their webs. It has a long ( almost 4 months!) residual affect and we went from having to sweep spider webs away every time we went to the boat to not having seen a spider in months.
It’s made for inside home usage so it’s safe ( as a chemical can be ) this was the first year we used it and it was only a partial season so I’m looking to see how long it’s residual is next season.
Terry Threlkeld says
Using a registered pesticide above water is illegal. To comply with laws you need to use a 25b product.
Ivy Wentz says
That’s great. At our lake here in Tx, spiders are a big issue. Now I have a new way to attack it. I like spiders but really don’t like their bites
Randy Hicks says
Yep, we’re also in Texas on a lake and it is a battle every time out to clear them out.
Debbie Bowen Crawford says
Peppermint oil repeals them. We do not have any but other boats have rather large ones.
Patrick Gearhart says
WHite vinegar and peppermint oil in a spray bottle – keeps them away
Luis Perez says
I hate spider poop
Mary Bustin says
I like spiders on board too – because they eat bugs and when birds visit, they eat the spiders.
Linda Anderson says
Haa haa boaters are hard core! I like your outlook. Aye matie our harbor smells like dead fish not bad. I grow mint on my mini yaucht. Vaacuum spiders! Hee hee.
All great comments. Any suggestions for spiders that move aboard at dock side? We use a spray spider kill on the dock and dock lines
Incidentally, incense sticks are also good to keep flies away, as long as you can stand the sickly smell of the perfume! For fruit flies we leave little dishes of cloves out.
Mark Bertsche says
Essential oil Tea Tree oil – cut with alcohol. Put in Dollar Store plastic spray bottle. Arachnids can’t stand the smell or buy a 12v diffuser on Amazon. No more spiders!
Terry Threlkeld says
Buy a Solo 417 Sprayer and use my product the Eliminator found at www,boatdockspray.com. The article up top about Ortho Home Defense sounds like a registered pesticide and is not legal to use above water so do not get caught using on your dock.
Do you just apply the eliminator to the dock around the boat? Keep webs and spiders from boat?
I sprayed grain alcohol with tea tree and lavender oil at spider nest openings and it had no effect.
I vacuum individual spiders and egg sacs to reduce population and seal the vacuum hose with an old t-shirt as my first defense. Deep cleaning is #2 and burning incense daily seems like it may be helping.
Peppermint oil is what we use. I have a hard time with strong scents so the incense won’t work for us. I use a small pad with peppermint oil and wipe all hatches and the door.
For incense, I love nag champur, not sickly but masks diesel well (very well).
As for spiders – spiders eat flying bitey things. Flying bitey things eat me for fun, spiders only tend to bite if I accidently lie on them. I don’t love spiders on the boat but if they stay in their area, I’ll stay in mine. They’re beautiful, intelligent creatures that eat baddies – welcome(ish) on my boat.
Patricia Pytlak says
The vinegar and peppermint oil solution/spray seems like a good idea, but I’m curious if it would stain our white gelcoat and/or the brightwork around the hatch that I would likely use it on? I am also going to start using incense as a preventive.
Robert Bain says
Here in upstate NY, spiders are a bid problem when the boat sits in the hoist all season. I have tried the commercial “Spider Away” preparations with little success Last thing I do before launch in the spring is to use Ortho Home defense. Spray on a rag (wear gloves) and wipe down railings, stanchions, corners, etc where they make their webs. Spiders do not like lemon, so I wipe the vinyl upholstery and surfaces with Lemon Pledge. . So far, so good!