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Farmers in Turkey Are Using Ostrich Eggs to Repel Spiders

Ostrich eggs are currently fetching as much as $50 in Ankara and Istanbul. The reason? Thanks to a centuries-old tradition, farmers believe that ostrich eggs have the power to do what a jug of DEET can't.

by Munchies Staff
Sep 16 2015, 7:00pm

Photo via Flickr user Lenore Edman

If you suddenly find yourself in possession of an ostrich egg—and, considering the current US chicken egg crisis, that's not entirely far-fetched—what would you do with it?

Maybe you'd attempt to make the world's biggest sunny-side up egg or scramble it in your largest frying pan. But that's thinking small! In Turkey, ostrich ova—which can weigh up to three pounds each—are being used in greenhouses to repel bugs.

Hurriyet Daily News reports that ostrich eggs are currently fetching as much as US $50 each in major cities such as Ankara and Istanbul. The reason? Thanks to a centuries-old tradition, farmers believe that ostrich eggs have the power to do what a jug of DEET can't.

"I'm having a hard time keeping up the supply of eggs to the greenhouses in the [Mediterranean] Mersin and Antalya provinces. Since spiders do not come to places where ostrich egg is placed, there is a significant demand from greenhouse owners there," ostrich breeder Hacı Gedikaslan told the paper.

The practice of using ostrich eggs as insect repellents dates back to the time of Mimar Sinan, a famous Ottoman architect who designed many of Turkey's most famous structures, including the Süleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul, in the mid-16th century. While Sinan didn't use them in greenhouses, he did advocate placing the eggs in the center of the chandeliers that hung in the city's mosques, believing they chased away spiders and insects that were attracted the light of the candles.

There is little science to back up this practice, however. Hurriyet Daily News notes that "[it] is believed that ostrich eggs emit odors which insects such as spiders find unbearable, but the smell is said to be undetectable by the human nose."

According to one Reddit user, the trick is to prick a tiny hole in the egg, which will make it slowly rot from the inside and give off a strong odor that only spiders can smell.

Let that be a reminder: spiders can smell you. Fucking hell. We'll take a dozen eggs, thanks.