You may have seen spiders in your home, and that concerns the safety of your family. Are these dangerous widow spiders? Do they bring any threat?
Let us look into the matter and clear your doubts regarding the dangerous-looking spiders in your home.
What Are Black Widows?
Black widows are a broadly distributed genus of spiders with a variety of species. The name black widow is due to sexual cannibalism practiced by female spiders. In North America alone, the variety includes southern black widow Latrodectus mactans, western black widow Latrodectus hesperus, and northern black widow Latrodectus variolus.
North America also has red widow and brown widow spiders.
What Do Black Widow Spiders Look Like?
Black widow spider species vary in size and have eight legs. The females (about 0.51 inches) are almost twice the size of the male black widow spiders. Female widows are generally shiny black, with a red hourglass-shaped marking on the underside of their abdomen. Males are brown or gray. Many species may have white, brown, or red spots on the upper side of the abdomen.
Where Do Black Widows Live?
These spiders live in temperate regions throughout the globe. These spiders are found in the United States, Australia, southern Europe, and Asia, Africa, and a majority of South America. In the United States, the South and West are the primary habitats for black widows.
Where Does A Black Widow Nest?
Widows nest in dark and undisturbed areas at ground level. They usually nest in places such as holes, woodpiles, or around construction openings. They create the web above the hole and wait for their prey. Their hourglass markings work as a signal for any trespassers.
Inside your home, the preferred areas of nesting are dark places like under the desk, or furniture and the basement. They create a web of silk and often hang upside down in the center.
What Do Black Widows Feed?
Like other spiders, black widows feed on other insect species such as flies, mosquitoes, grasshoppers, beetles, and caterpillars, etc. They wait for the insect to get trapped in the spider webs. Then, the spider rushes over to the prey and wraps the insect in silk. They have very poor eyesight and depend on vibrations to find the insects on the web.
These spiders are known for cannibalism throughout their life. The females tend to consume males after mating, while sibling cannibalism is observed too. Hence, among the hundreds of offspring, only a few live to become adults.
Are Black Widows Dangerous?
A black widow spider is considered dangerous to humans. Though males are not much of a concern, the female widow spider venom causes all the trouble. In the United States, the fatality rate goes as high as 5% due to their bites. Usually, the majority of bites are not fatal, but require medical attention. Their venom is 15 times stronger than a rattlesnake's venom.
How Do You Identify A Widow Spider?
The distinct color is the identity of a widow spider. Another recognition tool is the red hourglass shape on the underside of their abdomen. They make irregular webs that produce hints of the presence of widow spiders in your home. Females are often found close to the webs.
What Time Of Year Do Black Widows Lay Eggs?
Black widow's mating period is from spring to early summer. Female black widows are known for consuming the males after the meeting. It is how they received the common name 'black widow'. The females lay eggs in the months of summer. The female black widows may produce multiple egg sacs after mating. Each sac contains hundreds of eggs. The females protect the egg sacs throughout the time.
How Painful Are Black Widow Bites?
Female black widow spider bites are the most toxic spider bites in the United States. Their venom contains neurotoxins that affect the nervous system. The male bites do not possess much threat.
After being bitten by female widows, you may experience muscle pain throughout your body within one hour. The bite area gradually swells and turns red in color. If you are sensitive to venoms, you may experience pain localized in the back.
Though mild symptoms last several weeks, severe symptoms are observed generally in 2 to 3 days. Other symptoms of a bite may include:
- Increased blood pressure and fever
- Breathing difficulties
Can A Black Widow Kill You?
Contrary to popular belief, it is unlikely that a black widow bite will kill a human. The majority of people get cured with medical support, including antivenin injections.
Nevertheless, a patient's age, health condition, and availability of medical treatment play essential roles in the severity of symptoms. Older people, small children, and people suffering from heart conditions are at higher risk.
Are Black Widows Good For Anything?
These spiders prey on insect species for survival. It can help you control the insect pest population in your home. However, if you see any black widows in the house, do not neglect the threat they possess to you.
Where Are Black Widows Found?
Black widows are shy and avoid human interactions. They can often hide in dimly lit areas like corners, closets, garages, and basements inside the house. Black widows are found in piles of firewood, tall grass, outdoor toilets, trash bins, or debris outside your house.
What Insect Eats Black Widows?
The majority of animals, birds, and insects do not prey on black widow spiders because of the toxins these spiders produce. There are only a few species that prefer black widows as their prey. Metallic blue mud daubers hunt down these spiders and serve them to their larvae to feed.
What Is The Difference Between True And False Black Widows?
False black widow spiders look very much similar to black widow spiders that gave them the name. However, they are very distinct among themselves. The first and foremost difference is color. Black widow spiders are dark shiny black, but false widow spiders are brown. While there are small false widow spiders, black widow spiders are larger. False widow spiders are not very venomous. Their bite symptoms should not last beyond 12 to 24 hours.
What Are The Differences Between Northern And Southern Black Widows?
Though very similar, northern black widow and southern black widow spiders have differences in hourglass markings that you can recognize visually. The southern species has a complete hourglass marking, but the northern species have a broken hourglass marking with a thinner middle section that has a series of red spots.
What Do You Do If You Find A Black Widow Spider In Your House?
In North America, it is not very uncommon to find a black widow spider in your home, garage, or basement. If you come across any hints for the presence of a black widow spider, be careful of them. They will not bite in the first place as they are not very aggressive. However, if you accidentally provoke or threaten these spiders, their bite can deliver very toxic venom into your body. In a situation like that, immediately consult a physician for medical support.
If you have children at home, get rid of these pests with the help of professional pest control services.
Should I Kill A Black Widow?
If you have spotted a black widow spider, do not try to kill it instantly. It is because by doing so, you will provoke the spider to bite you in defense. Also, killing widow spiders is not necessarily compulsory as they tend to avoid human interference.
How Do You Prevent Black Widow Spiders In Your Home?
The easiest way to prevent any pest in your home is by reducing or removing their food sources. Spiders prey on insects, and black widow spiders are no different. Therefore, make your home free of insects, including mosquitoes to avoid widow spider infestation. Professional services give the best results in eradicating a variety of pests from your property.
How Do You Get Rid Of Black Widow Spiders?
You would not like to have the painful experience of a black widow spider bite. So, if you have found any widow spiders in your home, get rid of them without any delay. You can take some manual measures such as cleaning the house, vacuuming the webs, using the vinegar in hidden areas, etc., to reduce their population.
However, a 360-degree spider solution will require help from professional pest control services. A.N.T. PEST CONTROL NEW LENOX can keep black widow spiders away from your property with ease. It will also take care of other pests on your property like yellow jackets, ants, carpet beetles, mud daubers, and more at your safety and convenience.