This question has gotten a lot of discussion; here’s the factual basis for why they are ineffective as spider repellents.
Blogs about home maintenance and gardening often say that hedge apples are a natural way to get rid of spiders and bugs.
They prefer these fruits over store-bought repellents because they are cheaper, produce less waste, and are organic.
However, is there truth to this? Or is this just a typical case of a myth that stuck with homeowners over the years?
Let us discuss if hedge apples really repel or keep spiders away. And what is the scientific basis for this, if there is any?
- Unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence that hedge apples are good at repelling spiders, or any other insects.
- Anecdotally, hedge apples may even attract other types of insects like gnats as they sit and rot.
- It’s better to use traditional insect repellent strategies such as insecticides to repel spiders.
Table of Contents
What Is a Hedge Apple?
The hedge apple is the fruit of multiple fruit families. It is also called Osage orange, but its scientific name is “Maclura pomifera.” It is a small, round fruit that has a green color and bumpy skin.
The tree itself is tolerant of any conditions, which makes it a durable plant. It can withstand extreme heat, unhealthy soil, and generally bad weather conditions.
The plant can also be easily transplanted, which makes it a good natural hedge or fence for most houses.
It has a distant relationship to the orange fruit, despite being called an “Osage orange.”
Rather, the hedge apple is a member of the mulberry family, Moraceae.
It is not present in most human and animal diets because the fruit secretes a latex liquid when cut and its pulp has a woody texture.
Related post: Can You Actually Eat Hedge Apples?
Due to being unwanted by most living creatures, the fruit is called a “ghost of evolution.”
This is because, unlike most plants who has a benefit to other creatures in their ecosystem, the hedge apple has none.
It remains popular with many homeowners as a DIY pest and spider repellent. Does science back this up?
Let us discuss this in the next section.
Lack of Evidence of Hedge Apples Effectiveness as a Spider Repellent
There is no scientific evidence yet that the hedge apple is an effective repellent.
The only study that discusses the pest-repelling properties of the hedge apple is a 10-year-old study from the University of Illinois.
Robert Frazee, a retired professor from the University of Illinois’s Department of Natural Sciences, did a study on this subject at Iowa State University in 2009.
He discovered, along with other toxicologists from the same university, that in close quarters, slices of hedge apples did indeed repel German cockroaches, mosquitoes, and houseflies (these were the tested insects, but it seems that spiders were not included in the test).
But there is no proof yet that sliced hedge apples work to keep animals away from large areas.
This is usually the case for most homeowners: they put the slices in open spaces like the garage, basement, and even the foundation of the house, hoping the fruit can repel insects.
The smell of osage orange balls will keep your friends away, but not spiders.
There is also no evidence of hedge apples also called hedge balls can repel spiders, centipedes, and millipedes.
The 2009 study at Iowa State University regarding the topic shows they have not tested the apples with spiders but have tested them with other insects.
It was found that the apples were essentially ineffective as a repellent.
Other sources say that the apple liquid needs to be concentrated first before it can be used.
This is a better way to get rid of pests than just using sprays or hiring a pest control officer often.
If you are deciding to use the fruit as an insect repellent. You may be just wasting time and money.
First, latex secretion is found to be irritating to the human skin. You need gloves or any other protection when handling, especially when slicing the fruit.
Second, if it does work as a repellent, you need large amounts of hedge apple extract. Also, as said earlier, it did not work in open spaces and has not been tested on spiders.
While we want to use organic products as much as possible, it seems that there is no scientific evidence about hedge apples being used to repel insects.
In fact, there have been complaints that the hedge apples delivered opposite results.
When hedge apples were used to repel spiders, gnats were attracted to the fruit instead, further, the fruit emitted a bad smell due to being rotten.
How to Use Hedge Apples as DIY Pest Repellent
Even though science shows that hedge apples don’t keep insects away, people still use them as insect repellent.
After many many anecdotal stories, some of which can be doubtful, online of it working. Let us discuss how the fruit is being used in modern times.
If you do decide to go ahead and use hedge apples as a repellent, traditional methods of using this fruit are as follows:
- Get at least two hedge apples per area. So, if you want to put it in the laundry room, basement, or attic, you need at least 6 regular-sized hedge apples.
- Crush the slices with a hammer or big rock. Remember to wear eye and skin protection like sunglasses, long sleeve shirts, and gloves.
- Put the crushed slices and their extracts in an open bowl.
- The open bowl should be put where there is air moving. It will be useless if it is contained in a tightly secluded place. It is said that the slices can last for two to 3 months.
Do hedge apples repel flies?
There is no scientific evidence that hedge apples repel flies or any other insect. Known as Osage oranges, or commonly known as hedge apples, they are not related to apples or oranges, and their fruit is inedible if not cooked correctly.
Are hedge apples good for anything?
Though not as helpful as an insect repellent, the wood of the hedge apple tree is great for fence posts and furniture. The wood is exceedingly hard, heavy, tough, and long-lasting.
Do hedge apples repel roaches?
There is no scientific evidence that hedge apples are efficient insect repellents and therefore do not repel roaches. However, due to folklore, people tend to believe that hedge apples are good insect repellants.
There is no scientific evidence yet that it actually repels spiders and even insects.
The only way to know if hedge apples keep the spiders away is to try it yourself. You can always ask your neighbors or the owner of a fruit stand in your market for some hedge apples.
Just do the listed instructions above and see if it works.
Just make sure you are wearing the proper protective apparel when dealing with hedge apples. After all, you want to get rid of the pests and not hurt yourself.
Lindsey Hyland grew up in Arizona where she studied at the University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center. She continued her gardening education by working on organic farms in both rural and urban settings. She started UrbanOrganicYield.com to share gardening tips and tactics. She’s happy to talk about succulents and houseplants or vegetables and herbs – or just about anything in a backyard garden or hydroponics garden.