Black Widow Spider

Black Widow Identification

Despite their fearsome reputation, even the largest of the species is under half an inch. Females are larger. Both males and females can range from dark brown to black, but only the females have the characteristic hourglass on their abdomen. Bright red or orange, the abdomen marking of a female black widow can vary somewhat, and it’s not always an hourglass. Males have white, red, or orange markings on their backs instead of abdomens.

Female black widows have extremely poisonous venom, and the males have a less powerful poison. Black widow bites are rarely fatal, but they can be very painful.

Within 20 minutes to an hour of a black widow bite, symptoms will begin. These symptoms can include stiffness and intense pain in the bite area, nausea, severe abdominal cramping, tachycardia, muscle spasms, chills, and fever. Immediate medical attention is necessary if a bite is suspected or confirmed. Although a black widow spider’s bite is rarely fatal, the venom can cause symptoms for days and sometimes weeks.


Pest Description

Black Widow Habits

Black widow spiders prefer to nest in quiet, dark, undisturbed areas near to the ground. They do not prefer to be indoors, and will not try to go into a building. They’re typically brought into a building, either in a box or on furniture.

Black widow spiders, despite their venom, are typically non-aggressive. These spiders will only bite if provoked, commonly when they’re pinched, squeezed, or pressed. Most bites happen when a human brushes a hand accidentally against a black widow, typically when reaching in to grab an item, or cleaning out a dark space.

Preventing and Eliminating Black Widows

Black widow spiders don’t generally want to take over your home or property. They want to be left alone! Here are some great ways to prevent black widows from lingering in your basement or garage:

  • Always inspect items before bringing inside.
  • If you must store items in an attic, garage, or basement, use sealable plastic totes, not cardboard boxes.
  • Always wear gloves when cleaning out boxes, shelves, or other dark spaces.
  • Even better, clean out these spaces with a broom or other object, instead of your hand!
  • Any outdoor equipment or furniture should be inspected regularly for black widow spiders, webs, and egg sacs.
  • Trim any plants or vegetation from around the home, seal any foundation or wall cracks,  and remove any yard debris.

If you think you’ve found a black widow spider, call a professional exterminator who can identify the spider properly. If you’ve been bitten, seek medical attention immediately.

Because black widow spiders are poisonous, a pest control expert should always be consulted upon discovery. If an infestation is suspected, a professional will be able to inspect, treat, and prevent future black widow spider problems. At Antworks, we use a variety of techniques to prevent and eliminate black widow spider infestations.