Sunday, October 10, 2010

What kind of spider is this?

Does anyone know? I've been seeing them all over the place -- I'm not a big fan of spiders in general and these are particularly ugly!

On the topic of spiders, while Sunwiggy was visiting last weekend, she commented that where she now lives, in the U.P., people are selling hedge apples to get rid of spiders. There are hedge apples (the unsightly fruit of the Osage orange tree) all over the place in central Illinois in the fall, but I had never heard that they were good for anything.

Curious, I did a little Internet research on the topic. The Osage orange tree is native to eastern Texas, and parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas. It was brought to the mid-west by settlers to use as a wind break and as a hedge to keep livestock in (this use falling out of favor after barbed wire was invented), and the wood is very tough. Except as a shelter for birds and wildlife in its tangles, the Osage orange is not a very useful addition to the landscape. (Although I did not read that it is a nuisance out of its traditional ecosystem, like the autumn olive.) And its fruit, big green balls known as hedge apples, are not eaten by most wildlife. There is, however, a persistent claim that placing them around your house or in your basement will deter spiders.

Any truth to this? As with many folk traditions, the science-oriented sites scoffed at the claim, stating that no spider-repelling compound has been found in the fruit, and spiders don't smell things anyway; meanwhile, there are some testimonials from people swearing it has worked for them.

I guess if I had a spider infestation, I would try it. The hedge apples are just lying around anyway, so what could it hurt? But I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for it to work, either.


  1. People here in the U.P. really swear by the effectiveness of hedge apples as a spider repellent; even WalMart is selling them in the produce department. Bring up a few trash bags and sell them by the roadside! As for your photo, I know I should love spiders, but I'm so far away from that, I don't think it's going to happen. My reaction is still: "Kill It!" Mom

  2. I'm not sure that you should LOVE spiders, exactly... They are just so unlovable. Perhaps toleration is a better goal? I always say I have an agreement with the Spider Kingdom: I won't harass them in their homes if they stay out of mine! Actually, I've come to accept the web-spinning spiders, even in the house. It's the hunting spiders that I still squash!