black widow spider

Spider Spotlight: the Black Widow

The name, Black Widow, comes from a popular belief that the female EATS the male after mating. This is a rare occurrence and seldom happens in nature. Male black widow spiders tend to select their mates by determining if the female has eaten already to avoid being eaten themselves. 

The black widow spider is a member of the Theridiidae family of spiders and can be found all over the world. There are five species established in the United States and are most recognized for the red hourglass shape under their abdomen.

For such a small creature, the black widow spider has particularly potent venom and packs quite a punch. It’s venom is reported to be 15 times stronger than a rattlesnake’s. For humans, a black widow spider bite rarely causes death. The more likely symptoms of a spider bite are muscle aches, nausea, and trouble breathing.

Identification

  • Female black widow spiders are about half inch long, to about 1.5 inches long when the legs are spread.
  • Females are roughly twice the size of males and are known to have poorer eyesight than their male counterpart.
  • Black widow spiders are mostly black but can sometimes be brown.
  • Both male and female have the same shiny abdomen, but only the females possess the reddish hourglass shape on the underbelly.
  • Male black widows are known to have yellow and red bands and spots over their backs.
  • Newly hatched spiderlings are predominately white or yellowish-white

Behavior

Black widows are web spinners. When the temperature is 70 degrees or higher is when they are the most active. They spin their webs in order to ensnare prey for food. They usually eat small insects such as ants, bees, mosquitoes, grasshoppers, and beetles.

Food & Hunting

Black widow spiders, like most spiders, prefer insects for food. Once an insect is trapped in it’s web, the black widow makes small punctures in the victim’s body and sucks out the liquid contents.

Habitat

Black widows favor dry, dark locations to spin their webs. During the warmer months, they frequent the outdoors, but will seek warmer locations inside when it gets colder.

When outside, black widow spiders will tend to frequent protected areas under stones and decks, firewood piles and hollow tree stumps to spin their webs. The preferred habitats that are man-made structures like barns, outhouses, sheds, meter boxes, and verandas.

Indoors, black widow spiders prefer dark, sheltered space like garages, basements and in crawl spaces.

When they bite

  • Fever
  • increased blood pressure
  • sweating and nausea.
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Rash and itching

Pain is almost immediate and reaches its maximum after 1-3 hours. The pain associated with a black widow spider bite may continue for days before gradually subsiding.

Fatalities from a black widow spider bite are unlikely. Seek proper/timely medical treatment as soon as possible. If you notice black widows or signs of a spider infestation, contact a licensed pest control professional who can safely and effectively address black widow spider control. 

  • Wash the area with soap and water.
  • Apply a cold washcloth or ice pack wrapped in cloth to the area.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever.
  • If the bite is on your arm or leg, elevate it to prevent swelling.
  • Apply an antibiotic cream or lotion to the bite.
  • Call or see a physician for medical advice.

Prevention tips

Black widow spiders are common in the United States and are usually found in yards, woodpiles, sheds, and under decks.

They may also be present at campgrounds and other outdoor locations. People who work outside should be careful to avoid them.

Tips for reducing the risk include:

  • Check your shoes, clothing, and blankets before use, especially if they have been in storage for a while or left outside.
  • Apply insect repellant to clothes and shoes.
  • Use gloves and clothes that cover the body while cleaning out woodpiles and sheds.
  • Inspect the spaces around outdoor furniture before cleaning or sweeping.

The last word ...

Sigma’s Quarterly Pest Control Service (QPCS) covers antsspiders, roaches, wasps, fleas, centipedes, crickets, mice, rats, and much more.  Once we solved any issues on the inside of your home, we will focus our efforts on the outside to keep your home pest free. 

For the most effective solution to Pest Control, be sure to call Sigma Pest Control and have an experienced technician visit the site of infestation today.

CALL US! (540) 94-SIGMA
Sigma Pest Control LLC

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