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If You Must Kill That Spider, The Best Way Is To Freeze It

The next time you see an eight legged friend that you'd rather not be friends with, here's the best way to kill it

Image: Cheetah100

If we were all humane, nature-loving people, we would see a spider in our homes and simply smile, say hello, and let it go on its merry way. But we’re not. Many of us kill the spider. It’s okay; you don’t have to admit to it right now. But the next time you come across an eight-legged visitor that you’d rather not be visit with, here’s the best way to kill it.

There probably is an infinite number of ways to kill a spider. The most common—but certainly not the best—is the “Hulk smash!” method. Find a blunt object, and bring it down upon that poor, unsuspecting arachnid, crushing it to death. The problem with this method, as anyone who’s tried it can attest, is that sometimes the spider doesn’t die. Maybe you miss. Maybe the spider is incredibly strong. Or maybe it scuttled out of the way before you could hit it. Plus, smashing is dangerous for your furniture and your paint job.

Some suggest killing the spider with fire. This is how Smarter Every Day dealt with an unwelcome Brown Recluse spider:

He explains the logic this way:

Burning a very small spider with an exoskeleton increases the pressure inside, and makes it explode… killing it instantly. It’s the quickest way to dispatch it that I could think of. I had the same thoughts…. which is why I burned it with fire.

The downside to the fire trick is that it’s messy. Plus, it could set your house on fire.

What about drowning the spider? That’s pretty cruel: it can take spiders over an hour to drown.

No, the best way to kill a spider, says Real Clear Science, is not with fire or water, but with ice. Dr. Jerome Rovner, a professor at Ohio State and a member of the American Arachnological Society, told RCS’s Newton blog:

Catch in an empty pill vial of appropriate size (or a baby-food-size jar), snap the cap on, and put it in the refrigerator freezer overnight. Getting cold is a normal experience of all spiders during winter, so it doesn’t seem cruel to knock them out by lowering their body temperature. The next day, pour enough rubbing alcohol in the container to submerge the frozen spider to insure that it will not recover from being frozen. The now dead spider and alcohol can then be poured into the toilet and flushed away.

So if you have to kill the spider, do it kindly and gently—in the freezer.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Urbanization Is Supersizing Spiders
Spider Builds Fake Spider Decoy

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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