It seems that black widow spiders are feared by most people, and it is easy to understand why. While their bite usually isn’t fatal to humans, they are poisonous with venom that can easily send a person to the hospital! In fact, they are known as the most venomous spiders in North America. Why would anyone want these in or around their homes? Effective Pest Services explores black widow spiders further below.
Black Widow Appearance & Behavior
Black widow spiders get their name from the females’ appearance and habit of eating their mates. These female spiders are shiny and black with a red hourglass marking on the underside of their abdomen. This marking can also be orange-yellow. They are about 1.5 inches long, while the males are about half this size. The males also have a lighter color with red or pink spots on their backs. Black widows can be found in temperate regions around the world. In the United States, they are mostly found in the South and West. They typically make dark, dry shelters their home. These include places like barns, garages, basements, trash, and dense vegetation. For food, black widows eat other arachnids and insects they catch in their webs. They have been found to eat flies, mosquitoes, grasshoppers, beetles, and caterpillars. Once the spider has caught prey in its web, it uses its “comb feet” to wrap it in silk. After this, it will puncture it with its fangs and inject digestive enzymes. These liquefy the corpse so that the spider can suck up the fluid. Black widows are mostly solitary, except in late spring when mating occurs. After mating, the female spider often kills and eats the male. This explains the males’ short lifespans of only one or two months, while the females can live up to three years. The female spiders create papery egg sacs. These have between 200 and 900 eggs each. They hatch after about 30 days, and the baby spiders are cannibalistic. This means that few of them can survive the three-month development to adulthood.
Black Widow Bites
A black widow’s venom is 15 times stronger than a rattlesnake’s. They only bite humans when they are disturbed, and only the female venom is dangerous. The bite feels like a pinprick and leaves two faint red puncture wounds. Symptoms of a bite usually start between 20 minutes and an hour after being bitten. They include pain and stiffness in the bite area as well as abdominal cramping, chills, fever, and nausea. Death usually only occurs from black widow bites in people who are very young, very old, or sick. If you are bitten, seek medical attention to receive black widow antivenom.
Preventing Black Widow Bites
Here are some tips to prevent black widows from setting up camp at your property:
• Eliminate their food source by using regular pest control to avoid an insect infestation.
• Use gloves when working outside.
• Remove clutter and keep things off the floor in storage areas.
• Seal cracks and crevices around your home.
• Trim vegetation and clean up debris around your yard.
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If you are already seeing black widows around your home or noticing messy and irregular webs near ground level, you could be dealing with an infestation. Call Effective Pest Services so that we can take care of your situation safely.