Black Widow Spiders

The black widow spider is the most venomous spider in North America, and definitely one we need to look out for in the Middle Tennessee area.  They’re beautiful spiders, but if you see any in or around your home, you need to be careful and take measures to get rid of them!

Although most adults who are bitten do not usually suffer long-lasting or damaging effects, the black widow spider bite needs to be taken seriously.  The black widow is non-aggressive, but will bite in self-defense if a person touches them or brushes up against them.

The female black widow spins a large web and puts her egg sac there (with 25-250 eggs).  This spider catches many insects in its web – moths, flies, grasshoppers, beetles, mosquitoes, caterpillars.  She does not like to leave her web or egg sac.  The web is usually near the ground in a dark, sheltered site, and the webs are about one foot in diameter.

Adult males are harmless, and half of an adult female’s size.


Female black widow spiders are small, shiny and jet black.  They have a round abdomen and distinctive red markings on the underside of it.  There are two connected red triangles there that form to look like a red hourglass.  The hourglass can sometimes be orange or yellowish instead of red.  The black widow is about 1.5 inches long and 0.25 inches in diameter.


Indoors, black widow spiders build their webs in undisturbed, cluttered areas such as basements and crawl spaces.  Outside, they are found in wood piles, sheds, garages, and under rocks.  They can also be found in anything you’ve left outside – maybe on a porch or deck – that you haven’t moved in a while.  Since small children are most susceptible to the black widow bite, their outdoor toys, strollers, and playground equipment needs to be routinely inspected for spiders.


The bite of a black widow spider needs immediate medical attention.  If you suspect that you’ve been bitten, stay calm!  Apply ice to the bite site, be still, and call your doctor or ER.

If it’s possible to save the spider that bit you, do so in a small glass jar (even if you killed it and it’s a mangled mess).  Then if you need to see a doctor, you can take it with you to verify the kind of spider it is.  This spider’s bite is most dangerous to young children, the elderly, and infirm.

You may or may not notice the spider bite – if you do, it will be a short stabbing pain.  The venom of the black widow travels through the bloodstream and acts on the nervous system, possibly causing pain, nausea, vomiting, fainting, dizziness, chest pain, weakness, and tremors.


Prevent bites
Wear gloves and a long-sleeved shirt when handling cardboard boxes, firewood, and other outdoor objects.  Shake out clothing and shoes that have been outside.

Keep things clean
Cleaning up your clutter and trash in basements and garages will go a long way towards making black widow spiders feel unwelcome in your house.  Keep wood piles away from your house.  Store your things off the floor and away from walls.

Call U.S. Pest! 
These are spiders you really don’t want to mess with.  It is important to control any black widow spider populations in your home or yard immediately.  Call U.S. Pest today for a Free Inspection.

Keep them out
Make sure the screens on your doors and windows are tight-fitting.  Seal or caulk cracks and crevices around doors and windows.  Instead of normal white lights outside, put in yellow or sodium vapor light bulbs; these attract fewer of the insects that black widow spiders like to eat.

Non-chemical control
Since the female black widow spends most of her time in her web, it’s important to focus on that area.  Dust and vacuum thoroughly to remove the spiders, their webs, and their egg sacs.  Immediately place the vacuum bag in a sealed plastic bag, put it in the trash, and take it out of the house.

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