Do conkers repel spiders? Scientist investigates old wives’ tale

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Yahoo News UK
Are spiders afraid of conkers? (Getty)
Are spiders afraid of conkers? (Getty)

Along with lemon-scented candles and a gentle sprinkle of vinegar, the idea that conkers repel spiders is one of the most durable superstitions about arachnids.

But are spiders genuinely repulsed by some chemical inside horse chestnuts?

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It’s set to be put to the test, as Oxford University Professor Fritz Vollrath aims to see if there’s any truth behind the idea.

Professor Vollrath raised the issue as ‘spider season’ dawns - the time of year when most of us see more of our eight-legged friends (or enemies) - on BBC Radio 2’s Breakfast Show, hosted by Zoe Ball.

Autumn tends to see male spiders coming out of hiding inside homes in search of the ‘fairer’ sex.

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Other popular spider myths include that peppermint oil helps to repel the creatures - or sprinklings of chalk.

But the idea that conkers somehow repel spiders is enduring, and is one that Professor Vollrath hopes to put to the test.

The spider expert said: ‘It is probably a myth but nobody has scientifically tested it.

'I think I will do that - put conkers in one corner and put the cob (spider) as far away as possible.'

Professor Vollrath is researching spider silk, in the hope that it can be used in medicine, the Daily Mail reported.

He said: ‘The web is a unique structure. If we were to scale up a spider to the size of a human the web he or she, mostly she, would build in about half an hour would be the size of a cricket pitch and could catch a small aeroplane.

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