Cobwebs and spiders in the barn - friend or foe?
Spiders give me the willies when they are actually crawling on me, but if they are just chillin’ on their web, I'm in awe of their architecture skills. In the barn, however, I have a compulsion to remove all cobwebs and try and make the barn a spider free zone.
Hi Dude, don't crawl on me and we will both be fine!
While I understand that some of us view cobwebs as a great way to help control flies in the barn, it’s at the risk of spreading a barn fire. Cobwebs are SUPER at moving fires from one stall to the next, and when they fall from the ceilings and rafters they can ignite more fire starting materials in the stalls (bedding and hay and any wood). Not so awesome. Fly control is a multi pronged effort, and if you practice good fly control on your farm the presence of spiders and cobwebs in the barn won’t make a difference.
Most spiders that live in barns pose little risk to horses, humans, and barn critters. Black Widows and Brown Recluse spiders have a reputation of being dangerous, but you must take into account a zillion different factors, including:
- Species of spider. Widows and Brown Recluse spiders have multiple species in the US, some are more dangerous than others. Also, there are many species of spiders that are virtually identical to the Brown Recluse that you need to examine their tiny, tiny eyes.
- Did the spider break the skin? Many spiders can’t bite through skin, much less the hair of a horse, cat, or dog.
- What’s your medical history? Elderly and young people are more likely to have a reaction to a spider bite.
- How did you, your horse, or barn dog/cat come into contact with a spider? Widows and Brown Recluse spiders like to hide, in dark and undisturbed places. Most only bite when pressed, so if you have a stack of blankets in the back of your tack room, do some laundry before you use them for the season.
EEEKKKK..... But these ladies are super shy!
If you suspect a spider bite on you, your horse, your barn cat or dog, please call your Doctor or Veterinarian for a check up. Spider bites can cause damage, often taking weeks to heal. The Brown Recluse spider can cause neurological issues and skin damage in a small percentage of cases.
Easy and inexpensive cobweb clearing tools!
Which brings me back to the whole cobweb thing. I’m a big fan of minimizing all risks when working around horses, and that includes spreading fires via cobweb and the minor possibility of a bad spider bite and the major possibility of getting totally creeped out if a spider lands on me. For these reasons, I prefer to remove spider webs and make the barn as unwelcoming to spiders as possible.
- Clear cobwebs with brooms or a vacuum. Shop vacs are great for this, as they wheel around and are easy to use. Your horse vac could work, also, but it’s not as easy to cart around. Using a broom works, but sometimes you end up with spiders and webs falling.
- Store your spider friendly stuff (AKA stuff you don’t use a lot) in sealed containers. Looking for uses for those giant supplement tubs? There you go. Keep the bags your horse blankets come in for easy storage in warmer month.
- It’s believed that some citrus oils and eucalyptus oils work to keep spiders away.
- Seal off storage areas if you can. Cabinets work, as does using a caulk around windows and other gaps in your barn, such as the wall to floor junction. Weather proofing doors helps, too.
- Add a “spider plan” into your barn and home’s overall pest control plan if you have one.
- Stay on top of clutter - this is a dream castle for most spiders, especially clutter that you don’t use a lot.
What’s your plan on spiders and cobwebs for the barn?