What Does and Doesn’t Work When It Comes To Tackling Garden Creepy Crawlies

peacock-butterfly-1655724_1280Let’s all enjoy this butterfly before we think of less-welcome garden invaders.

Gardening is good.

I think we can all agree on that, can’t we? Gardening is good for you. It’s good for your body; an hour’s weeding packs quite the punch in terms of calories burned. It’s good for your mind, and it’s good for your soul. If you were making a list of what aspects of modern life are good and bad – almost like Santa – then gardening goes in the good column.


No. I can’t trash talk gardening, can I? It’s the sacred hobby! It’s somehow managed to be both quaint and old-fashioned while also modern and stylish! Surely we’re all just supposed to glow with satisfaction at time spent in our outdoor space? We’re not meant to complain.

Well, I’m going to. Gardening may be wonderful for you, but there is one major, huge, eight-legged (or six-legged) drawback: the creepy crawlies.

They’re everywhere. Set down a flower pot, pick it up a few days later and – bam! There’s a massive spider who scuttles off, your screams of dismay echoing in its ears (note to self: find out if spiders have ears). They colonise everything, from log piles to wooden framed greenhouses – if it exists in the garden, something else is living in it. And they don’t even pay rent.

Now I know that bugs are beneficial. I know they are hunting down even smaller creepies that might be trying to feast on your home-grown vegetables. But that doesn’t mean I want to share a space with them. Is there any way of convincing wild insects and arachnids, who care not for my pesky phobias, to leave me alone?


Sorry, no magic bullet here. However, I can help you save a lot of time and energy by telling you what didn’t work.

  1. Ask them to leave.

They didn’t go for it. Mostly, they ignored me, even when I put on my best posh accent and requested they depart. So not only are they squatters, but they’re also unspeakably rude.

  1. Spread conkers around.

This is meant to deter spiders. Note the use of the term “meant to”. Because it did not in any way deter them. I actually saw one tiny little money spider merrily scuttling over a conker (chestnut seed) as if it was part of an exciting new obstacle course.

  1. Salt everywhere.

I’m not even sure where I picked this up from, but it left me with two lasting impressions. 1) Creepy crawlies don’t care at all about salt on the ground and 2) it’s a massive waste of salt.

  1. The bag-of-water trick.

This is said to help keep flying insects at bay, so I duly tried it out. I think its biggest use was as a conversation point as neighbours asked me what on earth I was doing.  The wasps and flies of this world did not seem remotely deterred by it.

So those don’t work – but what can?

Exposure Therapy – For Me

Exposure therapy is a type of cognitive behavioural therapy. It’s not something you need to see a doctor for; you can practise it yourself. Just force yourself to live alongside these creatures without killing/running away from them. Eventually, you adjust, and they stop being terrifying. Better to learn to live with them in the end. Plus, if we go around spraying goodness knows what, we end up killing the good insects like bees and butterflies. We need bees for pollination of our fruit and vegies.

Speaking of which, make sure you plant lots of bee and butterfly friendly plants in the garden like lavender, roses, sunflowers, geraniums, bottlebrush and grevillea. This will help the bee colonisation a great deal and with growing fruit and vegies (which we all need more of in our diets). 

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