What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

How big can black widows get?
Location: Sanford, NC
August 26, 2011 10:52 am
My husband was moving the basketball hoop in our yard (getting ready for the huricane), when we spotted this huge spider with an even bigger egg sack. she was the size of a dime and her sack more like a nickel. The biggest spider and sack we had ever seen. Under the hoop was also 3 other large sacks and 2 smaller black widows. We did exterminate them, as our 4 children & small dog play in that area with no shoes on. My question is: how big can black widows get? I did not know that they got this large! Thank you
Signature: Keriann

Northern Black Widow

Hi Keriann,
The red spotting on the back of this mature Widow identifies her as a Northern Black Widow based on the information contained on BugGuide.  We have seen adult female Western Black Widows with abdomens nearly as large as a marble or a small grape.  These are mature females that are most likely filling with eggs.  While we feel badly that you have exterminated several Black Widows from your basketball court, we fully understand your concern for your children and pets.  Black Widows are not an aggressive species, and they are rarely found far from their web, unless they have been disturbed.  We once allowed a Western Black Widow to keep her web by our porch light.  We knew she was there and we were not concerned about getting attacked.  You would be much safer to fully educate the children regarding the dangers of being bitten by a Black Widow and ensuring that they learn to recognize them.  If you killed three individuals in your yard, there are most likely more to be found in hidden locations and you will probably not be able to eliminate them all.  We hope Hurricane Irene steered clear of your area.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: North Carolina

One Response to Northern Widow with Egg Sac

  1. Black Widow Nope says:

    I mostly agree, and I hope they did educate their children, but this will not prevent bites when the kids didn’t see the spider until it was too late.

    “Black Widows are not an aggressive species, and they are rarely found far from their web, unless they have been disturbed. We once allowed a Western Black Widow to keep her web by our porch light. We knew she was there and we were not concerned about getting attacked.” Yes, but the spiders are on/under the thing the kids are playing with (i.e. the hoop). While going to make a basket, they could accidentally come into contact with a frightened large black widow spider protecting her eggs. It’s the classic situation when this spider which normally avoids humans might bite. A porch light is quite different. They shouldn’t have to stop playing basketball just because a few spiders decided to make it their home uninvited. And how do you educate your *dog* or cat to avoid them?

    We should never kill or harm a living thing for no reason, and if something is not dangerous to us we should leave them alone, but these people did not go on a mindless slaughter by any means. They discovered they had spiders with a bite that can cause severe symptoms and can be life-threatening for children and small animals and chose the option that resulted in the fewest total deaths while decreasing their immediate risk. I’m a vegan, I believe all life is valuable and we should respect nature but I understand that sometimes we have to make sad/tragic choices to protect our loved ones and it doesn’t mean we’ve done something wrong.

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