How to Keep Spiders Off Your Boat? (10 Ways to Repel and Avoid Them)

Cockroaches aren't the only creatures that can abound in your boat. Spiders also like sailing. In fact, scientists believe that spiders were transported to the United States on cargo ships and have since become prevalent in the eastern coast. These creep-crawlies are common during summer when temperatures are ideal, and there's an abundance of enough shelter and ample food supply (aka other insects).

Although they are beneficial predators that help keep the population of many nuisance bugs in check, spiders in your boat can be terrifying. Interestingly, only a small percentage (0.1%) of spiders are actually venous enough to harm humans. But as it turns out, these terror-inducing critters are so scary that even other spiders are scared of them. On top of being scary, spiders on boats can cause damages that need costly repairs.

In this article, you will learn how to keep spiders off your boat and how to get rid of spiders on your boat if they've already let themselves in.

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What Are Dock Spiders?

Dock spiders are also called fishing spiders or wharf spiders. They are one of nature's most misunderstood yet fascinating arachnid species. These spiders are among the few animals in the world that are capable of walking on water. That's because their legs are widely spaced with hairs that repel water.

They can grow to a terrifying size, with females growing up to the size of a human adult's hand. But if their horrific size isn't enough to get your skin crawling, the creepy appearance of these eight-legged critters will make your blood run cold. 

Often mistaken for wolf spiders, dock spiders are easy to identify. They are brown-grey with noticeable black and brown markings on their abdomen. They have two rows of eyes at the top of their head, and their striped feet are widely spaced with water-repelling hairs on them. While female dock spider body size ranges from 15-26mm in length, the male body size typically ranges from 8-13mm in length.

Dock spiders are commonly found on shorelines, especially those with many plants or structures like boat houses. They usually feed on water insects, including frogs and tadpoles. Although dock spiders are not common household pests, they can find their way into your boathouse and boats.

Do Spiders Cause Damages On Boats?

Although their ferocious appearance causes overwhelming fear, spiders often don't harm humans. They are also not known to cause structural damage. For the most part, their webs which are used for hunting, shelter, and reproduction, are the ones that cause problems on your property.

If ignored, spider webs can make your property look neglected and unsafe. And in a severe infestation, the webs can make your structure look like it's a prop from a horror movie. 

Apart from their creepy cobwebs, spider poop can cause damage to your boat. Spider poop or spider droppings are thick liquids with a black, gray, or brown appearance. These tiny droppings are often found in the corners of your boat or on the seats. If cleaned immediately, spider droppings will not cause any damage.

When left for long periods, however, they will develop into a hard crust that can stain your boat's seats, floor, and sides. In addition to being a cosmetic issue, dried spider poop can also be very hard to get rid of.

Do Spiders Bite Humans? 

While spiders are capable of biting humans, spider bites rarely cause any serious health problems. However, that often depends on the species invading. 

Most spider bites cause redness and swelling in the bitten area. But bites from the notorious Black Widow can be severe and even fatal. Other species like the brown recluse and hobo spiders can cause serious symptoms like severe headaches, painful muscle cramps, and trouble breathing, requiring immediate medical care.

How to Keep Spiders Off Your Boast and Dock?

Spider webs are nearly invisible. Unknowingly walking through the creepy webs when trying to get on your boat can be annoying. These webs can also be hard to get rid of, and you can spend the next five frustrating minutes trying to deal with them, especially when they get in your hair.

Even if you successfully remove the webs, the entire boat ride can feel like you've been accompanied by miniature monsters. Learning how to keep spiders off your boat is the best way to make your and your shipmates' life easier.

Avoid Soaking the Boat and Dock

You have to regularly clean your boat and docks to prevent its metal from corroding and the wood from warping. While cleaning can help wash some of the creepy invaders away, you must be careful not to leave your boat or dock waterlogged.

Some spider species, such as dock spiders, are naturally attracted to water. They are designed to survive in water and can actually swim underwater and stay submerged for several minutes. 

If your dock or boat is soaking wet, dock spiders will readily 'move in.' Therefore, you must keep your boats and docks dry to keep spiders away.

Install Screens

You can spider-proof your boat by installing screens wherever possible to create an effective physical barrier between spiders and your vessel. These significantly reduce the number of spiders that makes it into your boat. However, spiders are notorious for squeezing themselves through tiny openings to get inside and create nests. Hence, you should take your preventative measures a notch higher by sealing any cracks or gaps on your boat.

Remove Hanging Branches Over Your Dock

Low-hanging branches over your dock are a super highway for pests. Unfortunately, spiders have a particular liking for trees, especially maple, old oak, cedar, and pine trees. They also seek out shelter in wood piles and leaves. From here, they will quickly find ways into your boat to terrorize you and your boatmate. Consider getting rid of all low-hanging branches over your dock to discourage these creepy guys from leaping into your boat.  

Clean Your Boat thoroughly and Regularly

Regularly cleaning and vacuuming out your boat can help tackle any spiders and spider eggs present. It is also an excellent way to keep spiders off your boat. When cleaning, you must get rid of any possible food sources that may be drawing the spiders to your boat.

Spider Netting

Spider netting works in a similar way as screening. Spider nets are designed to keep spiders off your boat while catching all unwanted droppings from spiders, birds, and other bothersome pests. They can also be installed under your dock roofing to create a barrier between spiders, their poop, and your dock.

The biggest advantage of spider nets is that they can be customized to the precise size of your boat or dock, providing full coverage. Durable and long-lasting, spider nets are also very affordable.

Use Ultrasonic Spider Repellent

Ultrasonic sounds are a safe and effective way to repel spiders. These pest control devices emit a high-pitch sound at a frequency that can cause great discomfort, kill, or drive away pests. You can purchase an ultrasonic spider repellent online or at any pest control store at a very economical price.

Eliminate Food Sources

If you spend a good time on your deck, chances are that you bring along some boat-friendly foods like sandwich wraps, pasta salad, muffins, and popcorn. Well, guess what? These foods can attract spiders to your boat. Of course, spiders don't eat human foods. But food crumbs and leftovers can attract insects such as flies, which are one of the spider's favorite meals. You should be vigilant about food waste on your boat. Keep it clean and insect-free to keep spiders away.

Use Mothballs to Repel Spiders

Mothballs are exactly what their name suggests. They are small balls consisting of deodorant and pesticide with 100% active ingredients. They are often used when storing clothing to prevent damage from moths and other fiber-loving insects. Luckily, mothballs can also work on spiders! To repel the creepy crawlies properly, place mothballs in a container and leave it open on your boat.

But you must be cautious because mothballs release toxic vapors from their active ingredients to kill pests. You should only use mothballs and repellents when the boat is not occupied. It's also advisable to air out your boat completely before re-entering. Generally, mothballs are ideal for use when you're planning to desert your boat for some time.

Use Natural Methods to Keep Spiders Off Your Boat

For boat owners who want to limit their carbon footprint, here are effective ways to get rid of spiders and keep them off your boat naturally:

Use diatomaceous earth: You can use diatomaceous earth to keep spiders off your boat. In fact, this natural substance is labeled to kill spiders. Sprinkle a thin layer of the product around spider activity areas like the dock, deck, and any cracks or crevices on the boat that may be harboring spider eggs.

Use citrus oil: Spiders are no fun of citrus oil, thanks to its acidic nature. The eight-legged arachnids hate everything about citrus essential oil from smell, scent, and taste. Mix ten drops of citrus oil with water in a spray bottle. Spray the solution on the boat and dock to kill and repel spiders.

Spray Saltwater: Did you know that salt is a natural spider poison? That's what makes it an effective spider control product. Dissolve 1/8 cup of salt in a gallon of water and pour the solution into your spray bottle. Treat your boat and dock to kill and repel spiders. Ensure the vessels are properly rinsed off after the salt treatment.

Use Vinegar: This regular household product can help you tackle spiders and their eggs. Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle and spray around your boat. Let the treatment take effect for at least 20 minutes before rinsing off. If you don't like the smell of vinegar, you can add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to mask it. Spray the treatment as often as needed to kill or keep spiders off your boat.

The Bottom Line: Seek Help from an Expert

The above tips will help you keep spiders off your boat. But DIY pest control is easier said than done, and trying to keep spiders off your boat by yourself can be a daunting task. The most effective way to spider-proof your boat or dock is by getting them treated by a professional.

Pest control experts have years of experience getting rid of spiders on boats. They will thoroughly inspect your property to identify the factors attracting the pests to your boat. The expert will then apply the best chemical treatment to get rid of current spiders and their eggs. Finally, they will create a protective barrier around your boat and dock to repel new arrivals.

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