Saving Spiders

Short of learning to teleport them, this is my favorite method of moving spiders from indoors to outdoors.
Short of learning to teleport them, this is my favorite method of moving spiders from indoors to outdoors.

Last year, I was organizing my new home and found myself in the bathroom doodad aisle of the local “everything” store, holding a blue glass jar with a fitted glass lid. It was just the type of item I usually talk myself out of buying. Years of decluttering have drilled into my head that I’m more likely to continue to appreciate useful items than purely decorative ones. I put it down and kept moving.

After adding a few more useful items to my cart, I walked back to the blue glass jar. If I wore makeup, I could use it to store cotton balls. If I sewed or mended clothing, I could put extra buttons in it. I really couldn’t think of anything else to use it for. Still, it was beautiful, and I bought it.

Months later (and here we come to the garden-related part of the story), I have found a use for the jar. I use it to save spiders.

Not dead ones! Eeew.

I have always dreaded finding a spider indoors. Killing them is so unpleasant. The nerve-racking chase. The sickening crunch — or, alternately, the horrible slow swirl down the drain or toilet bowl. Afterward, the guilt.

Yet letting them continue to live (and multiply) indoors also is unpleasant. I’m not afraid of spiders, but I am afraid of them crawling on me.

I prefer moving them outdoors. This demands quick thinking and reflexes, not to mention crafting a “life boat” from a piece of paper, a tin can, or whatever else might be at hand. Risks include broken legs (the spider’s), possible escape, and being crawled on.

The blue glass jar is my answer. It’s always at hand when I spy a wayward arachnid. The lid fits tightly. I can see the spider inside so am not startled on removing the lid. The slippery glass minimizes the risk of jumping. This allows me to catch and release spiders without agonizing over it.

I just hope they enjoy my garden as much as I enjoy having them out there (rather than in here).


  1. I save them. But I just get a tissue, grab the spider gently, and shake it off outside. I always wonder what they think about the quick scene change.

    • Leslie, you must be gentler than I am (or calmer?). That tissue method has broken many of my spiders’ legs over the years. Glad to hear from another spider saver.

  2. I laughed when I read this. I laughed because as I type there is black widow spider sitting in a mason jar on my kitchen counter. Hubby says it’s his pet. He feeds it and everything. And Hubby wants another pet to go with it (wants me to catch it before I smash it). Gotta draw the line somewhere & that looks like the spot.

  3. Evelyn, I stand in awe of your care for one of God’s “less handsome creatures”, and Laura, just face it, your husband has gone around the bend. I draw the line at black widow or brown recluse spiders in the house, caged or not.

    Myself, I think spiders are just peachy in the garden, as I just blogged about myself this morning, but inside the house I allow, at the urging of my arachnophobic spouse and daughter, only those who can survive a toxic insecticidal wasteland. Good karma or bad, I don’t want to worry every time I slip my feet between the sheets.

    • Oh, I knew he went around the bend long ago. It’s part of the attraction. So long as he doesn’t curtail my gardening adventures, we’re solid.

  4. Never minded a few spiders in the house. They eat other insects and spiders. Obviously, I live in an old farm house with creatures coming and going in and out.

  5. Oh Pat, I’m like you! If spiders bothered me, I’d have moved on long ago. I will take them outside if they get in the way and I can manage it with a piece of paper or something.

    The other day, a gentleman in my business was visited by a spider dropping down from the ceiling on a thread. Without missing a beat (and in mid-conversation), he snagged the thread and carried it outside with the spider still dangling, and draped it on a bush. Such grace!

  6. I read somewhere that certain spiders you find in the house cannot really live outdoors. Oh, here it is:

    I never really bother much with spiders I find in the house, I am hoping they are munching on other bugs like silverfish. Once in a while during mating season we see a wayward English house spider, often a male who got lost looking for a mate. They often get vacuumed up. Last year in one day hubby and found one each, both in the same spot: at the bottom of the clear plastic container I use for crafts sitting next to the sewer clean out in the basement bathroom, they both had a four inch leg span.

    • I really dislike silverfish, as I have a lot of books, and I know their habits well. I loathe earwigs–along with Jerusalem crickets, they make my skin crawl and my stomach lurch.

      If there were a beneficial critter that adored eating earwigs, I’d most likely get one.

  7. I worked with Black widows for several years determining the tensile strength of their silk. They are slow, easy to handle and appreciate a nice cricket snack every so often.
    There are no vegetarian spiders!

    • That’s true about no vegetarian spiders.

      So tell me/us about the black widow spider research–is there a URL for the project? What safety precautions did you use in order to safely handle the BWs?

      When my screenname had “ariadne” in it, I had to correct quite a few people about the difference between a long thread to follow and a weaver turned into a spider by a jealous goddess…and who was called what.

    • Put an upside-down glass over them, then slowly and carefully slide a sheet of paper between the glass and the surface the spider is on. Then flip the glass upright with the paper on top and transport Mr. Spider to his new home.

  8. Your container sounds better than a glass and a sheet of paper to hold Ms. Spider while she’s escorted outside.

    My belle-mère is an arachnophobe; I am not. Most household spider are fine by me.

  9. We keep a bug cup for moving things outdoors, but I love the idea of a jar with a lid. I usually look around for paper or cardboard to hold on top so they don’t get out of the cup before I get outside.
    As for spiders, I’m with those that just leave them indoors, but I live in the north where we don’t have poisonous types. I was horrified last fall to see a neighbor spraying spiders OUTDOORS because she didn’t want them coming inside when the weather got cold.

  10. The glass-and-paper trick requires more coordination than my jar and lid, and has led to many injured spiderlegs in my house. Also, I can see if they are waiting on the lid, so when I open it to let them out, I’m not surprised. Surprise leads to flailing, which leads to more injured spiders.

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