Osage orange trees are related to mulberries. In the mid-19th century, farmers and ranchers planted them in tightly-packed rows as hedges and makeshift fences. The citrus-scented fruit is what some people believe keeps away spiders.
Osage oranges, also known as hedge apples, are softball-size fruits that ripen in early autumn and eventually fall to the ground. Hulls are tough, difficult to open and the fruit inside is not a significant source of nutrition for animals. However, the seeds are edible and favored by squirrels.
Many people place hedge apples along the perimeter of their homes or in basements and crawl spaces as an insect repellant. Folklore describes hedge apples as a preventative that keeps away spiders, cockroaches, crickets and other insects.
Iowa State University conducted tests on hedge apples and discovered a chemical inside the fruit that repels cockroaches. However, the university cautioned that "whole fruit have not been proven to repel or control insects in homes."