Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Conkering invading spiders!

I was amused when the cleaner of my office at work came in for his weekly visit.  Having removed a couple of spiders he went on to explain to me that the best way to keep spiders out was to put a 'conker' in the corners of the windowsill.  (For those of you outside UK, a conker is the nut produced by a horse chestnut tree.)  He told me that is definitely works and to support his claim he told me about various seemingly rational but arachnophobic colleagues who had conkers in the corners of their offices.  [Note that the presence of a windowsill or an open window is not relevant as much as the use of the corners!]

I laughed (of course) and he complained that everyone laughed when he told them.  (I assume it is the way he tells them!)

Skeptical antenna twitching, I found myself googling for conkers and spiders and found a range of similar claims.  There really does seem to be something special about 'corners', just as much as about the  conkers and whatever mysterious substance they emit to deter the spiders.

Consulting the said rational colleagues, I found them surprisingly credulous and but fortunately all of them were easily amused by the speculation.  Or else they were deliberately winding me up, but if this was the case, why would the conkers have been there when they showed me?

Results of the google searches included several entertaining accounts.  The first, 'Bonkers for Conkers' might be purely tongue-in-cheek:

"Heard on the radio this morning that a conker in the corners of your room deters spiders - apparently conkers attract mice, which eat spiders so the spider, knowing this, steers clear of conkers and hence the room. Obviously mice don't eat spiders? and it is nicer to have mice in your house than spiders (true)" [Is it?  Not for me!]

What a great concept - that the spiders 'know this' about the mice! 

Then, courtesy of Reuters, here is a link (you have to be patient while the advert loads and disappears) to a study carried out by a school.  Seemingly the spiders prefer conkers to wood after all.

Conclusion: Maybe not an Old Wives' tale, but a young wives' tale and a jolly funny one!


RosaRubicondior said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RosaRubicondior said...

Stands to reason when you think about it. Baby spiders are taught this about mice by their parents.

Derby Sceptic said...

Very interesting that companies are cashing in on this claimed effect by selling sprays for deterring spiders with chestnut extract.

Sounds like con the gullible to me!

Mentioning no brand names but I have seen at least one advertised on Amazon.