If you want to keep spiders out of your tent, there are loads of simple steps that you can take.
You should seal any holes or tears with patches (or duct tape), avoid camping close to water, and keep your campsite nice and clean so you aren’t attracting bugs that spiders like to eat. You can also spray your tent with certain essential oils that keep spiders at bay.
There are also plenty of spider repellant sprays that you can get hold of these days, so you’ve got plenty of options!
This article will tell you everything you need to know about how to keep spiders out of your tent, as well as which venomous species you need to recognize.
What Attracts Spiders to Your Tent or Campsite
There are always going to be spiders at your campsite, and this is not a bad thing!
If there are no spiders, that means there are no other bugs that spiders usually eat. (Or it means you will have millions of insects that spiders aren’t keeping under control for you!)
And if there are no bugs, there would be no birds, amphibians, or small mammals. Just like all living creatures, spiders are a vital part of the food web.
Despite my appreciation for spiders, I completely understand if you don’t want to share your sleeping bag with them! To know how to prevent them, you need to think like a spider.
This is what spiders are looking for when they come into your tent:
Warmth—Your body heat will make your tent considerably warmer than the outdoors, and spiders like being cozy just as much as anyone else!
Other Insects—Spiders eat other insects. If your tent is brightly colored (yellow/red/purple), you will probably attract lots of insects, which in turn will attract spiders. Insects also love floral scents, so be careful about wearing strong-smelling deodorants or perfumes.
Water—Spiders and other insects like to hang out around the water. So no matter how pretty that alpine lake might look, you probably want to back off a bit and pitch your tent at a safe distance. (This will also mean you’re less likely to disturb other wildlife that comes to the water to drink.)
Food Waste—If you don’t dispose of your food waste well enough, you’ll attract a load of wildlife. This could include wolves and bears, but normally we are just talking tons of bugs. We know that spiders will follow the insects, so keep your campsite nice and clean.
What Kind of Spiders to Expect (USA)
The type of spiders you can expect to see depends entirely on the state you are in and even the time of year. There are more than 3,500 species in the USA alone!
For detailed information about spiders broken down by state, check out the USA Spiders website.
The Most Dangerous Spiders In The USA
The good news is that the vast majority of spiders are completely harmless. The bad news is that there are some dangerous and even deadly species in the USA, which you need to be aware of.
Here are some of the most dangerous spiders in the USA:
Brown Recluse—This is one of the most dangerous spiders in the USA. Its bite can cause severe tissue damage. You should seek treatment immediately after a bite.
Black Widow—The black widow is pretty infamous. Luckily, there is a cure for her venom, but you should still seek treatment immediately after a bite because she can be deadly.
Red Widow Spider—The red widow spider needs a very specific habitat, so you’re likely to find her only in Florida. Although she is poisonous, she is extremely shy. It is practically unheard of for someone to be bitten by a red widow, as they avoid humans.
Wolf Spider—Wolf spiders are not aggressive, and they bite only when they feel threatened. The bites are extremely painful, so you will want to seek medical treatment, but they aren’t lethal.
Hobo Spiders—These aren’t particularly dangerous, but they are more aggressive than most spiders. Be careful with these, especially if your children are around!
Bear in mind that most spiders won’t bite unless they feel threatened, so leaving them alone can be the best course of action if you see them outside.
If a spider is inside your tent and you’re not sure whether it’s venomous, get the heck out of there. It’s better to make the identification from a safe distance!
Poisonous Versus Venomous
If you’re wondering why I’m saying it’s venomous instead of poisonous, it’s because you probably aren’t going to be eating any spiders.
Poison is ingested through food or liquid. Venom enters your body through a bite or sting.
7 Tips for Keeping Spiders Out of Your Tent
Here are some quick tips for how to keep spiders out of your tent:
1. Check your tent for holes
Before heading off on your camping trip, you should put up your tent in the yard and check it for holes or tears. If you find some, fix them with a patching kit or put duct tape over the vulnerable spots at the very least.
2. Zip up the tent door fully
You’ll probably be coming and going from the tent a lot on your camping trip, but don’t be tempted to leave the door open.
To prevent spiders and insects from finding their way into your sleeping compartment, you need to fully zip it up every time you come and go.
3. Shake out your clothes
If you leave clothes lying around the campsite, spiders could crawl into them and then end up in your tent when you bring the clothes inside.
Try to keep all your things zipped safely inside your tent, and make sure you give them a good shake out if you accidentally leave them outside.
You should also shake out your boots before putting them on, in case spiders or snakes are hiding in them.
To learn more, here is an article on how to avoid snakes while camping.
4. Use a spider repellant spray
You can use an all-natural spider repellant spray to help discourage spiders. I would spray this all over my tent door and any seams if I were in an area with dangerous spiders.
Alternatively, you could use an essential oil like lavender mixed with water and spray it to deter spiders.
Just avoid any toxic chemicals in a tent because it’s a small space and you’ll end up breathing in some of them.
5. Camp in a suitable spot
Like I mentioned before, you want to camp away from standing water. This means you’ll have fewer bugs around that spiders feed on.
You should also try to find a nice, clear spot to pitch up, without lots of fallen leaves or undergrowth where spiders (or even snakes) might be living.
6. Store your food properly
Store your food in containers so that you don’t attract bugs and spiders to your tent. You should also be careful about your trash because this can entice insects to invade your campground.
7. Avoid scented toiletries
Stick to scentless deodorant, and don’t spray yourself with floral perfumes. As lovely as these might smell, they will make you one giant bug magnet.
No one wants to smell like a spider snack!
Creepy crawlies are an inevitable part of camping—and that’s not a bad thing! If it weren’t for spiders, loads more biting insects would be around. And if those insects didn’t exist, the whole food web would collapse.
It’s essential to take some steps to protect ourselves from venomous spiders, but all the tips in this article will help you keep them out of your tent.
If you are ever bitten and have any doubt about the spider’s identity, it’s much better to be safe and seek immediate medical help.
I hope you found this article helpful, and I wish you many happy and spider-free adventures in the great outdoors.
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Rachel is a freelance adventure writer and founder of Highly Sensitive Nomad. When she isn’t writing, she can be found wild camping in the mountains and swimming in the lakes of Europe.