How to keep spiders out of your tent while camping

by | May 25, 2023 | Wildlife & pests

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Inside your tent?


It’s enough to put you off from camping altogether.

Many spiders are harmless, but some species of spiders can cause serious pain and itching when their venom is injected into the skin.

Spiders you’ll want to steer clear of in North America include:

  • Black widow spiders
  • Brown recluse spiders
  • Hobo spiders
  • Wolf spiders

What attracts spiders the most?

A spider crawling down its webbing.

Spiders are generally drawn to three main things:

  1. The presence of insects
  2. Warm and dark spaces
  3. Moisture

This explains why it’s possible to find them in your tent on a camping trip.

Other insects can get trapped between the rainfly (outer shell) and mesh inner layer of your tent, which is a perfect food source for spiders.

Plus, the warmth and darkness of your tent make them feel safe from predators.

Your breath and body heat can also trap moisture in your tent overnight, causing condensation to build up on the walls.

But don’t worry.

You can still go camping without worrying about finding spiders in your tent.

The key is to take a few necessary precautions to minimize your risk.

Choose the right campsite

An empty campsite with a picnic table and fire pit.

Spiders are practically everywhere, but some campsites may be more prone to having them than others.

Avoid dense vegetation

Dense vegetation, like bushes and tall grasses, are ideal hiding places for spiders and other insects.

When you set up your tent in an area with less vegetation, you’ll reduce the chances of spiders coming near your sleeping area.

Clear any leaves or debris around your tent too, as they could also harbour spiders.

Camp away from water sources

Spiders are often attracted to damp areas, so it’s a good idea to avoid setting up your campsite near water sources—including lakes, rivers, or marshes.

Staying away from these areas will not only help keep spiders out of your tent, but it can also reduce the number of other insects around your campsite.

When you choose a campsite, look for higher and drier ground to set up your tent.

This will help reduce moisture inside your tent, making it less appealing to spiders.

Also, ensure you use a rain fly to cover your tent and keep it dry.

Prep your tent

A person laying out a tent to dry.

Your tent should be a good quality three-season tent with a rainfly, mesh panels, and sealed seams.

Make sure to inspect your tent for holes or tears before going on your camping trip.

Seal up any holes

Spiders and other critters can sneak into your tent through even the smallest openings.

To prevent this, pull the tent out of its stuff sack and do a thorough inspection.

Better yet, if you have the time, set up your tent in your yard and closely examine it.

If you find any holes, fix them with a patching kit or, at the very least, cover them with duct tape.

Use a groundsheet

Using a groundsheet can also play a significant role in spider prevention.

A groundsheet is placed under the tent floor, providing extra protection from bugs and insects that could crawl up through the ground.

When selecting a groundsheet, make sure it fits your tent’s dimensions and is made of durable, puncture-resistant material.

Here are some other tips to keep in mind while setting up your tent:

  • Place the groundsheet underneath your tent, making sure it doesn’t extend beyond the tent’s perimeter.
  • Tucking it underneath will prevent water from pooling and stop crawly critters from climbing on top of the sheet.
  • Be sure to clean the campsite from debris before setting up your groundsheet, which will help to prevent attracting spiders and other insects.
  • Keep the tent mesh panels zippered shut at all times, only opening them when entering or exiting the tent.

Practice good tent hygiene

An ultralight backpacking tent at a campsite.

The way you use your tent will also prevent spiders from getting inside.

Avoid keeping food and scented products inside your tent

This is a major rule with tent camping and should be practiced mainly to prevent animals from being attracted to your tent, but it works for spiders too.

Spiders are attracted to the insects that gather around food, so you’ll want to store meals and snacks away from the tent.

Similarly, avoid using perfumes or scented body products at the campsite, as they can also attract insects and, consequently, spiders.

Dry out damp gear and your tent during the day

Spiders are also drawn to damp and dark environments.

To reduce the likelihood of spiders in your tent, make sure to dry out any damp gear during the day.

If you find yourself camping in a wet area or after rain, be sure to air out your tent and camping gear in the sunshine.

This will not only help deter spiders but also prevent mould and mildew issues.

Here’s how to efficiently dry your gear:

  • Hang wet clothes and gear in sunny areas to dry quickly
  • Open your tent’s vents and the rainfly to allow air circulation
  • If possible, place your tent on a slightly elevated spot to prevent water from pooling underneath

Secure your tent and sleeping area

A zipper on the rainfly of a tent.

Your sleep system inside the tent should be well protected to keep spiders away from you.

Keep mesh panels fully zipped

To keep spiders out of your tent, always ensure that your tent’s mesh panels are fully zipped up.

This prevents spiders and other creepy crawlies from entering your sleeping area.

Even small gaps can allow spiders to sneak in, so diligently check for any openings and address them promptly.

Remember, a tightly sealed tent is your best defense against unwanted guests.

Keep bedding off the ground and away from walls

Elevating your bedding off the ground can help deter spiders from making themselves at home in your sleeping area.

Consider using a camping cot or a thicker camping mattress to create some distance between you and the ground.

Additionally, avoid placing your bedding directly against the walls of your tent.

This reduces the likelihood of spiders crawling onto your sleeping bag or pillow from the tent walls.

Creating an environment that is less attractive to spiders can go a long way in ensuring their absence.

For instance, camping away from damp areas and trees can help you steer clear of potential spider hotspots.

Also, avoiding perfumes and strong scents might prevent them from being lured into your tent area.

Check your gear

Backpacks and camping gear at a campsite.

Spiders can sometimes be transported into your tent via gear that’s brought inside.

Shake items out before bringing them inside the tent

When camping, it’s important to inspect your gear before setting up your tent.

Spiders may have already made their way into your belongings—especially if they’ve been in storage for a while.

Unpack your items carefully, and shake them out to dislodge any unwanted guests.

Be meticulous with your sleeping bag, tent, and clothes.

While it might take some extra time, it’s better to be thorough and avoid a surprise spider encounter in the middle of the night.

If you find any spiders, gently remove them and release them away from your campsite.

Store gear properly

Proper storage of your gear is another key step to keep spiders out of your tent.

Before packing up after a camping trip, shake off all dirt and debris from your gear.

Store these items in sealed containers or bags to prevent spiders and other pests from making their way into your belongings.

And if possible, keep them away from moist and dark places.

This will stop any chance of spiders taking refuge in your equipment before you head out for the next adventure.

Use natural, unscented tools to repel insects

Ross in our bug shelter.

Since spiders are attracted to other insects, it can help to use natural, unscented tools to repel them.

Put a mosquito net over your tent

One easy solutions is to put a mosquito net over the entire structure of your tent.

A mosquito net acts as a physical barrier that keeps insects out while still allowing for ventilation.

Plus, they’re lightweight and easy to set up.

We have the MEKKAPRO mosquito net that’s big enough to fit over a king size bed.

Just make sure the net is large enough to cover the entire tent entrance, and tuck the edges into the ground for added security.

When choosing a mosquito net, look for one made from tightly woven mesh with a high “denier” rating.

A higher denier means the material is more durable and less likely to tear.

You’ll also want to look for a net with a “midgie-proof” label, which indicates that it’s designed to keep out smaller insects like sandflies, gnats, and no-see-ums.

Use an insect repellent lamp

An insect repellent lamp can be a useful tool for keeping spiders and other bugs away from your tent.

These lamps typically use ultraviolet light to attract insects and a small electrical charge to zap them.

Since spiders are not attracted to UV light, these lamps may not be as effective on their own against spiders.

However, if a spider’s primary food source—other insects—is eliminated, it may discourage them from coming near your tent.

There are several types of insect repellent lamps, including solar-powered, battery-operated, and lantern-style designs.

For instance, the Jinyeda solar bug zapper is a popular choice.

When choosing a lamp, consider your power source availability and your camping environment.

For example, a solar-powered lamp might not be the best choice for a heavily shaded campsite.

To get the most out of your insect repellent lamp, place it away from your tent but within the general area, so it attracts insects further from your sleeping space.

Avoid using scented or chemical repellents

A citronella candle.

When you’re out camping, you might think using scented or chemical repellents could be an effective way to keep spiders out of your tent.

However, it’s important to be cautious with these products, as they might do more harm than good.

First, consider the potential consequences for wildlife.

Many scented and chemical repellents could attract animals, including bears.

If you’re camping in an area with bears or other curious critters, these repellents might bring unwanted visitors to your campsite.

It’s crucial to prioritize safety over the convenience of spider-free camping.

Additionally, scented and chemical repellents are not very effective on spiders.

According to Better Homes & Gardens, spiders aren’t too bothered by most of these products.

You might feel like you’re taking action, but in reality, the spiders will carry on with their business, unaffected by your efforts.

Another concern is the potential negative impact on the environment.

Some chemical repellents contain harmful ingredients that can damage the soil, water, and other components of the ecosystem where you’re camping.

It’s important to remember that when you’re enjoying the outdoors, you should minimize your impact on the environment.

Instead of relying on scented or chemical repellents, focus on other strategies to keep spiders out of your tent:

  • Keep your tent zipped up at all times.
  • Store food and scented items properly to avoid attracting insects.
  • Declutter your campsite to reduce hiding spots for spiders.
  • Use a bug net or screen for your tent’s openings.

By following these tips, you’ll have a better chance of keeping spiders away without resorting to potentially harmful quick fixes.

Enjoy your camping trip and the great outdoors, but always keep in mind the importance of preserving nature and staying safe around wildlife.

Next up: How to keep snakes away from your campsite

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Elise & Ross

We’re Elise and Ross, avid backcountry campers and outdoor adventurers! We started Gone Camping Again as a way to share our knowledge and experience about wilderness living and travel. Our hope is that we inspire you to get outside and enjoy all that nature has to offer!

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