The black widow spider is one of the most infamous and feared spiders that can be found in the wild and in homes. This spider, known for its shiny black color and its red or orange hourglass shape on its back, has a very powerful venom where it is said to even be more potent than a rattlesnake’s, a cobra’s or even a coral snake’s venom. If you have them in your home, you must take action and get rid of it immediately.
The Black Widow Spider
A black widow spider is classified under the genus of Latrodectus, family of Therididae. There are around six different species of the black widow spider and all of them carry are very poisonous.
Also known as the hour glass or shoe button spider, these spiders are very shy and are only active at night. Naturally nocturnal creatures, these spiders are typically found in warm areas. In the United States, they are common in the southern states, but can be found throughout the country as well.
The female black widow spider is typically larger than the males, where the male spiders are about half the size of the females. Contrary to popular belief, female black widows rarely eat male black widows after mating. The name “black widow” was given during the time that it was thought that males were invariably consumed after mating with a female.
Identifying a Black Widow Spider
It is quite easy to determine if the spider you have in your home is a black widow. Here are some of the things you should look for to identify it:
- Color – Black widows are of course, black, or sometimes gray, with a shiny or glossy “finish” depending on the specie. They also have brightly colored hourglass markings on the back side of their abdomen, usually red or orange. Male black widows have duller colors compared to females. Their colors and markings are not as bright and prominent too.
- Size – A female black widow can grow up to one and a half inches big, including the legs, while males are only about half the size. They have longer legs and a smaller abdomen, relative to their body size compared to other spiders.
- Web Patterns – These spiders do spin webs, however, unlike most spiders, they do not spin webs with that have patterns. A black widow’s web does not have any pattern, though it is one of the type of spiders that have very strong webs.
- Dwelling Places – Black widow spiders are nocturnal creatures so you you will usually find them in dark warm areas in your home like your garage, old cabinets, attics, and basements.
The Danger of Black Widows in your Home
Known for their poisonous bite, black widow spiders in your home should be something you should get rid of immediately, especially if you have children or elderly people in your home. Though a bite from this spider rarely kills a person, extreme pain and discomfort is experienced, plus the possibility of other complications like hypertension attacks or even heart attacks. Female black widows are the ones usually that bite, while males seldom do. If a male does bite, it is not as potent as a female’s due to their size. At most, all you can get is a little swelling or some rashes on the area.
Since black widow spiders are nocturnal creatures, they are only active at night. They will only bite when threatened or disturbed. Females are very defensive in guarding their eggs and will surely attack if they feel their eggs are threatened.
These spiders usually live in dark corners and crevices of your home. Garages, basements, and attics are some of the places you might find them in. Though you may not intentionally mean to harm the spiders, the spiders may think that you might and retaliate with a bite. You may be simply looking for something or cleaning up the area, or a child curiously looking around while the spider may think you are a threat.
The Bite of a Black Widow
A black widow spider is one of the most feared spiders, mainly because of their poisonous bite. Even though their poison is one of the most potent, their bite does not release much into the body of a human to be much of a serious threat. Only the elderly and children are at a life-threatening condition when bitten.
The venom produced by a black widow is classified as a neurotoxin. It means that the venom attacks the nervous system of the victim, affecting the muscles.
Symptoms of a Black Widow Spider’s Bite
The symptoms of a black widow spider’s bite varies, depending on the specie of the spider, and the age of the victim. The symptoms of the bite usually sets in about 15-30 minutes after being bitten. Here are some of the common symptoms:
- Localized pain – pain in where the spider has bitten the victim
- Muscle cramps – may be initially experienced at nearby areas, and may spread to muscle groups, and possibly even to the whole body.
- Chest pain
- Difficulty in breathing
- Excessive sweating
- Swollen eyelids
Some people may simply feel a sharp pain in the area. In such cases, the home remedies such as taking pain killers like Ibuprofen eases the pain. However, if pain and other symptoms appear after some time, it is very crucial that the person be brought to the nearest hospital for medical treatment.
Getting Rid of Black Widow Spiders
Black widow spiders may be a threat to you and all the people living in your home. Usually, you would take a can of insecticide and spray on these spiders. However, that may only temporarily solve your problem.
Insecticides can instantly kill black widow spiders only by direct contact. If you simply spray on the areas where they hide or pass, they can detect that and simply move to another spot. The most effective way to get rid of them in your home is to prevent them from getting in your home, rid them of their food source, and clean out the possible places where they can live in. Here are the things you should do:
- Make sure your house sealed – Your house must not have any opening where a spider may enter. You may be able to get rid of them now, but after a few days or weeks, you will find them again in there. Use screens and make sure there aren’t any holes. Check pipes, cracks, and any crevices around your home. If you find any, seal them up.
- Clean the inside and the nearby surroundings of your home. Telltale signs of spiders are their spider webs in corners. If you do find webs, then that is a good place to start cleaning. Check the places you don’t often go to. Those undisturbed areas are some of the favorite places of black widow spiders. When cleaning, make sure you wear rubber boots and gloves, so just in case you come across a spider, you are protected from its bite.
- Insects are the number one favorite of spiders. Rid your home of it and those spiders will have nothing to eat in your home. Insecticides and other insect repellents will keep those spider snacks away from your home.
Spiders are not exactly pests but simply uninvited guests. It is somehow beneficial to have them around because they keep the number of insects in check. However, because of their dangerous bite, it is better that they stay not be inside or near your home to keep everyone safe. Follow the mentioned steps and your home will be black widow-free.
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