Dealing with black widow spiders can be a daunting task, as they are known for their venomous bites.
Fortunately, there are effective methods for getting rid of these potentially dangerous creatures from your home and surroundings.
Before diving into the solutions, understanding black widow spiders’ behavior is crucial for successful removal.
These spiders typically prefer dark, undisturbed areas like woodpiles, cluttered basements, or crawl spaces 1.
By being aware of their preferred habitats, you can take precautionary measures to keep them at bay and ensure your safety.
In the upcoming sections, we’ll discuss several techniques, tools, and tips you can use to reclaim your space from these unwelcome guests.
Identifying Black Widow Spiders
Male Black Widow Spider
- Smaller in size
- Lighter in color (often brown)
- Less venomous
The male black widow spider is typically smaller in size compared to the female. They have a lighter color, usually brown, and are less venomous.
Female Black Widow Spider
- Shiny black body
- Red hourglass-shaped marking
- Potentially dangerous venom
The female black widow spider has a shiny black body with a striking red hourglass-shaped marking on the abdomen, making it easily identifiable1.
Females are the ones to be cautious of, as their venom can be harmful to humans.
Black widow spiders can be found worldwide, with certain species being more common in specific places.
- Irregular cobwebs
- Reclusive habit
Both male and female black widow spiders create irregular cobwebs3. These spiders have a reclusive habit and prefer to stay out of sight as well.
Preventing and Eliminating Infestations
Cleaning and Decluttering
To prevent and eliminate black widow spider infestations, start by cleaning and decluttering your home. Focus on:
- Dusting and vacuuming regularly
- Removing clutter, especially in dark corners and storage areas
By maintaining a clean environment, you make it harder for spiders to establish webs and lay eggs.
Sealing Cracks and Crevices
Black widow spiders can enter your home through cracks and gaps in windows or doors. Seal these by:
- Applying caulk to small gaps
- Installing weather stripping around doors and windows
A well-sealed home keeps spiders out, reducing the risk of infestation.
Reducing Outdoor Habitats
Spiders often live in outdoor areas like woodpiles, debris, or overgrown shrubs. Limit these habitats by:
- Keeping firewood away from the house
- Regularly trimming bushes and shrubs
- Removing debris from the yard
Decreasing spider habitats near your home reduces the chances of them moving indoors.
Using Insecticides and Sticky Traps
Insecticides and sticky traps are effective methods for controlling spider infestations. Consider the following pros and cons:
- Pros: Fast-acting, effective against multiple pests, can be applied to specific areas
- Cons: Harmful to beneficial insects, may require multiple applications, potential health concerns
- Pros: Non-toxic, easy to use, can catch multiple spiders per trap
- Cons: May trap non-target creatures, need regular replacement, sometimes unsightly
When using either method, it’s important to place them carefully in areas where you’ve seen spider activity.
By following these steps, you can prevent and eliminate black widow spider infestations in your home and keep your environment safe and pest-free.
How to Get Rid of Black Widow Spiders: Natural Remedies
- Peppermint oil: A popular choice for a natural spider repellent, it can be mixed with water and sprayed around the house.
- Pros: Environmentally friendly and a pleasant scent.
- Cons: May need frequent reapplication.
- Lemon oil: Another effective essential oil, it can be combined with water to create a repellent spray.
- Pros: Fresh citrus scent and non-toxic.
- Cons: Less effective than chemical insecticides.
|Peppermint||Environmentally friendly||May need frequent reapplication.|
|Lemon||Fresh citrus scent||Less effective than chemicals.|
Vinegar and Lemon Solutions
- Vinegar solution: Mixing equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle can help repel spiders.
- Pros: Inexpensive and non-toxic.
- Cons: Strong vinegar smell and may damage some surfaces.
- Lemon solution: Lemon peels can be steeped in boiling water, then cooled and strained to create a spray.
- Pros: Fresh scent and a multi-purpose cleaner.
- Cons: Less powerful against persistent infestations.
|Vinegar||Inexpensive||Strong smell, may damage surfaces|
|Lemon||Fresh scent, multi-purpose||Less powerful against infestations|
The effectiveness of essential oils like peppermint and lemon as natural repellents is supported by anecdotal evidence, but scientific studies on their efficacy against spiders are limited.
Remember to always use caution and consult with professionals for severe infestations.
Black Widow Spider Bites
Black widow spiders are found in crawl spaces and are known to be dangerous. When bitten, they release a potent neurotoxin, causing harm to humans.
Symptoms of Venomous Bites
These symptoms can be seen if you are bitten by a venomous spider:
- Pain: Intense pain at the bite site
- Sweating: Local or widespread sweating
- Muscle cramps: Severe muscle cramps throughout the body
Medical Treatment and First Aid
Here are the recommended steps to take if bitten:
- Clean the bite: Wash the area with soap and water.
- Apply ice: Apply a cold pack to reduce pain and swelling.
- Elevate: Keep the bitten area elevated above the level of the heart.
- Seek medical attention: Visit a healthcare professional to assess the severity of the bite and receive proper medical treatment.
Comparison to Other Venomous Spiders
Here’s a comparison table of black widow spiders and brown recluse spiders:
|Feature||Black Widow Spider||Brown Recluse Spider|
|Bite Symptoms||Pain, cramps, sweating||Pain, blister, skin damage|
|Medical Treatment||Antivenom||Wound care, possible surgery|
While black widow bites are more painful and venomous, brown recluse bites can cause significant skin damage.
In both cases, seeking medical attention is crucial to prevent complications or death. Comparatively, black widow bites are not as dangerous as rattlesnake bites but still require timely medical care.
Keeping Your Property Safe
Gardening and Outdoor Tips
- Keep your garden tidy: Remove debris and clutter, which can serve as hiding places for black widow spiders.
- Trim plants: Maintain vegetation to avoid contact with your home’s structure, as this can provide a bridge for spiders to enter.
For example, a neat and tidy garden not only reduces hiding spots for black widows but also helps prevent other pests.
Pest Control Services
Hiring a professional pest control service is another effective method for keeping black widow spiders at bay.
- Expertise: Exterminators are knowledgeable about spiders’ habits and effective treatments.
- Thorough treatment: They can accurately identify black widow webs, egg sacs, and hiding spots, ensuring effective elimination.
- Cost: Ongoing pest control services can be an added expense to your budget.
Here’s a comparison of methods to reduce black widow spiders:
|Pest Control Services||High||Moderate-High|
By incorporating these gardening tips and considering the use of pest control services, you can keep your home safe from the threat of black widow spiders and enjoy a more comfortable living environment.
Black widow spiders, notorious for their venomous bites, require vigilant prevention and control measures.
Understanding their behavior, habitats, and distinguishing features is essential for effective management.
While natural remedies offer eco-friendly solutions, severe infestations may necessitate professional intervention.
Immediate medical attention is crucial if bitten. By adopting preventive strategies and staying informed, one can ensure a safe and spider-free environment.
Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about black widow spiders. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.
Letter 1 – Immature Black Widow Spider
Trying to identify this spider.
February 28, 2010
I’ve got this great picture my brother took. We’re trying to identify it. Can you give me any information. Is it poisonous?
This is an immature Black Widow, and you probably know that the bite can be dangerous. The female’s venom may cause a poisonous reaction. BugGuide has much information on the Widow Spiders in the genus Latrodectus, and there are numerous images that show these markings on the immature specimens.
Letter 2 – Juvenile Western Black Widow
Location: Sacramento, Ca
January 10, 2011 11:31 pm
We found this spider in a towel in our backyard and weren’t sure what it was. Can you help??
This is a juvenile Western Black Widow. This female will eventually lose the intricate markings and mature into a glossy black spider with a red hourglass marking on the underside of the abdomen.
If you flipped this juvenile over, you would see the hourglass. You may compare your spider to this image on BugGuide.
Letter 3 – Immature Widow from Montenegro: Latrodectus tredecimguttatus
Subject: Spider (Identification)
July 4, 2014 4:21 am
Found this guy on a pile of big stone tiles in the sun, The picture isn’t perfect but I think it had 6 of those orange/red spots on his back. Small in size few mm in size (3-7mm maybe?).
This is an immature female Widow Spider in the genus Latrodectus. According to this araneae website, the species Latrodectus tredecimguttatus is found in Montenegro and the site states it is found: “In dry habitats, dunes, sandy beaches, shingle beaches and on low vegetation.
This species can bite humans, as also all other Latrodectus species in the world. Often, a bite causes significant effects, with severe and long-lasting pain in two-thirds of cases, preventing patients from sleeping in one-third of cases. Pain increases in more than half of the cases within the first hour and mostly radiates into the limbs or abdominal pain develops.
Typical symptoms include sweating in about 70% of cases and further systemic effects in 20–30% of cases (nausea and vomiting in less than 20%, raised temperature and neuromuscular effects in about 10%, hypertension in less than 10% of cases). Pain usually lasts 1–2 days and the other symptoms 1–4 days.
In Europe, bites have become very rare in the last decades. If needed, a symptomatic medical treatment is recommended.”
Letter 4 – Immature Western Black Widow Spider
Subject: Whats that bug! Spider!
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
September 13, 2014 6:22 pm
I found the super cool spider that I have never seen before in Southern Nevada! Could you help me identify it?
Signature: Thanks bunches! Victoria Rebholz
This is an immature Western Black Widow, Latrodectus hesperus, and you can compare your image to this image posted to BugGuide. According to BugGuide: “Caution: Anyone bitten by a western black widow spider should receive prompt and proper medical treatment.
While the black widow is considered the most venomous spider in North America, death from a black widow spider bite is highly unlikely. For the most part, the black widow’s bite may be felt only as a pin prick, during which the spider’s fangs inject a minute amount of highly toxic venom under the skin.
The severity of the victim’s reaction depends on his or her age and health, and on the area of the body that is bitten. Local swelling and redness at the site may be followed in one to three hours by intense spasmodic pain, which can travel throughout the affected limbs and body, settling in the abdomen and back (intense abdominal cramping, described as similar to appendicitis), and can last 48 hours or longer.
Elderly patients or young children run a higher risk of severe reactions, but it is rare for bites to result in death; only sixty-three having been reported in the United States between 1950 and 1959 (Miller, 1992). Other symptoms can include nausea and profuse perspiration. If left untreated, tremors, convulsions and unconsciousness may result. When death does occur, it is due to suffocation.”
Letter 5 – Immature Black Widow Spider
what is it
Photographed this spider in the rose garden.. Unable to identify.. Hope you can help..
Thank you very much.
Beautiful photograph of an Immature Black Widow Spider. She may not be mature, but she can still bite. Be careful.
Letter 6 – Immature Brown Widow
Subject: Unknown Spider
Location: Torrance, California
January 28, 2014 4:39 pm
I need some help identifying this recently deceased spider. My 6-year-old son found it in a corner of my house after we came back from a long vacation. It was shiny brown, with white stripes on its back, and about a penny size.
It had made a small, irregular web, and was living just a few feet away from a Brown Widow (also deceased, sorry). I have never seen this kind of spider before, and have not been able to find a match on the Internet.
This looks to us like an immature Brown Widow. See BugGuide for a comparison image.
Letter 7 – Immature, female Northern Black Widow
Subject: Is this a black widow?
Geographic location of the bug: Northern Michigan
Time: 02:29 PM EDT
Found this creature inside my home 10/21/2017. Is this an immature female black widow? It had the red spots on the back and some on the abdomen. We also found this one the the porch in early October. Is it an orb weaver?
How you want your letter signed: J.E.
This is most certainly an immature, female Widow Spider, and considering your location, it is most likely an immature, female Northern Black Widow, Latrodectus variolus, which is pictured on BugGuide. Your other spider is indeed an Orbweaver.
Letter 8 – Immature Northern Black Widow
Subject: good or bad spider?
Location: southern indiana
November 15, 2015 12:42 pm
Southern Indiana. November 15. In the house.
We don’t really like to think of spiders as good or bad, but without waxing philosophically on the matter, we can tell you that this is an immature Northern Black Widow, and that the bite of a Black Widow Spider is considered to be potentially dangerous, especially to young children and the elderly.
According to BugGuide: “Caution: This spider is venomous and can harm people. However, the female injects such a small dose of venom that it rarely causes death. Reports indicate human mortality at well less than 1% from black widow spider bites. While Latrodectus variolus is not aggressive and does not have the instinct to bite, her venom is neurotoxic, which means that it blocks the transmission of nervous impulses.
If the spider bites, most likely it has been pressed against human bare skin, and this causes a natural reaction, a bite in self-defense. For the most part, the black widow’s bite may be felt only as a pin prick, during which the spider’s fangs inject a minute amount of highly toxic venom under the skin. The severity of the victim’s reaction depends on his or her age and health, and on the area of the body that is bitten.
Local swelling and redness at the site may be followed in one to three hours by intense spasmodic pain, which can travel throughout the affected limbs and body, settling in the abdomen and back (intense abdominal cramping, described as similar to appendicitis), and can last 48 hours or longer.
Elderly patients or young children run a higher risk of severe reactions, but it is rare for bites to result in death; only sixty-three having been reported in the United States between 1950 and 1959 (Miller, 1992). Other symptoms can include nausea and profuse perspiration. If left untreated, tremors, convulsions and unconsciousness may result. When death does occur, it is due to suffocation.” There should be a telltale red hourglass mark on the ventral surface.
Letter 9 – Immature Brown Widow
I have had this big spider living outside of my front door for over a week and then tonight I saw the red hourglass marking and thought it may be a black widow, but as seen in the picture it is not completely black. Is this still as dangerous as I think? Thanks,
Black Widows are often not black until they attain adulthood. This Black Widow is immature or a male spider.
Correction: July 9, 2018
Thanks to a comment from Genus 2.0, we now agree that this appears to be an immature Brown Widow.
Letter 10 – Immature Western Black Widow
Subject: Spider ID please
Location: Cochise County, Arizona
April 25, 2017 4:55 pm
I found this spider in a space between a door and the screen. It is shiny and I first thought of black widow but it doesn’t have the red hourglass on the abdomen. What it can be? I appreciate your help so that I can open that door again.
Thank you so much for your quick reply. I have never seen a black widow spider and wanted to know where they live (to avoid them). Never imagined they live so close!
Letter 11 – Immature Western Black Widow
Subject: Dont know who to report this to
Geographic location of the bug: Las vegas nevada
Time: 05:39 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Possibly an Australian redback. We have found. Brown and black widows brown recluses and I think we counted six out of the top 10 deadly spiders that are not supposed to be in Las Vegas Nevada so if you could help us identify this to make sure it’s not an Australian redback I would appreciate.
Thank you for your time I sent two separate pictures of two separate spiders found in the backyard the first one is what I believe to be in Australian redback or a related species the second one not sure
How you want your letter signed: Cory
The image of the Spider that is missing four of its legs appears to show an immature Western Black Widow. Here is a BugGuide image for comparison. Immature individuals also exhibit the identifying hourglass marking on the ventral surface.
Upon maturing, the Western Black Widow loses its dorsal markings and becomes a glossy black spider with a red hourglass. The other image is too blurry for an identification.
Letter 12 – Immature Widow Spider from South Africa
Subject: What Spider Is This
Location: South Africa
February 5, 2015 2:05 am
Hoping you are able to identify this spider? – Wanted to know it it is poisonous to humans as some one at work got bitten by it?
This looks to us like an immature Widow Spider in the genus Latrodectus. You can compare your individual to this image posted to iSpot. Some species of Widow Spiders are considered venomous and potentially dangerous to humans who are bitten.