How to Get Rid of Black Widow Spiders: Easy and Effective Methods

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.

Black Widow

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.

Habitat

  • Found worldwide
  • Common in eastern Washington2
  • Widespread in western United States3

Black widow spiders can be found worldwide, with certain species being more common in specific places.

In the United States, they are common in eastern Washington2 and are the most widespread spider posing a potential envenomation threat in the western part of the country3.

Spider Webs

  • 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.

Immature, female Northern Black Widow

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.

Immature Black Widow

Using Insecticides and Sticky Traps

Insecticides and sticky traps are effective methods for controlling spider infestations. Consider the following pros and cons:

Insecticides

  • 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

Sticky Traps

  • 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

Essential Oils

  • 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.
Essential Oil Pros Cons
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.
Solution Pros Cons
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.

How to Get Rid of Black Widow Spiders
Immature Northern Black Widow

Medical Concerns

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:

  1. Clean the bite: Wash the area with soap and water.
  2. Apply ice: Apply a cold pack to reduce pain and swelling.
  3. Elevate: Keep the bitten area elevated above the level of the heart.
  4. 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
Venom Potency High Moderate
Bite Symptoms Pain, cramps, sweating Pain, blister, skin damage
Medical Treatment Antivenom Wound care, possible surgery
Mortality Rate Low Rare

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.

Pros:

  • 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.

Cons:

  • Cost: Ongoing pest control services can be an added expense to your budget.

Here’s a comparison of methods to reduce black widow spiders:

Method Effectiveness Cost
Gardening Tips Moderate Low
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.

Conclusion

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.

Footnotes

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499987/
  2. https://doh.wa.gov/community-and-environment/pests/spiders 2
  3. https://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn74149.html 2 3

Reader Emails

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?
Renee
Southern California

Immature Black Widow

Hi Renee,
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

Weird Spider
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??
Signature: Alysha

Juvenile Western Black Widow

Dear Alysha,
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)
Location: Montenegro
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?).
Signature: eatyourdog

Immature female Widow Spider
Immature female Widow Spider

Dear eatyourdog,
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

Immature Western Black Widow
Immature Western Black Widow

Hi Victoria,
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.
Jay Lowrey

Hi Jay,
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
Hello Bugman,
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.
Thanks.
Signature: Daniel

Immature Brown Widow
Immature Brown Widow

Hi Daniel,
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
Date: 10/21/2017
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.

Immature, female Northern Black Widow

Dear J.W.,
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.
Signature: Niki

Immature Northern Black Widow
Immature Northern Black Widow

Dear Niki,
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

Black Widow?
WTB,
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,
Chris

Hi Chris,
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
Hello Bugman,
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.
Signature: Kana

Immature Western Black Widow

Dear Kana,
This is definitely an immature Widow, probably a Western Black Widow.  Here is a matching image from BugGuide.

Dear Daniel,
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!
Kana

Letter 11 – Immature Western Black Widow

Subject:  Dont know who to report this to
Geographic location of the bug:  Las vegas nevada
Date: 06/07/2019
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

Immature Western Black Widow

Dear 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
Hi There,
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?
Signature: Spider

Possibly Immature Widow Spider
Possibly Immature Widow Spider

Dear Spider,
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.

Authors

  • Daniel Marlos

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

17 thoughts on “How to Get Rid of Black Widow Spiders: Easy and Effective Methods”

  1. I hope one of these articles is correct in stating that a black widow spider lives around 180 days as I have also read elsewhere that they can live up to a few years. I have seen an immature one three times inside where I live and been bitten several times so far. The first two times I was very ill. I have searched everywhere for it and constantly vacuum everywhere but every time is sleep with the lights off I am bitten again. Your info on how they live for just 180 days has given me hope that I may outlive this critter after all!

    Reply
  2. I agree with bugman. I have have been stuck with what began as an immature female widow spider in my condo for around 7 months and it’s bites look like she must be quite healthy. I was so sick the first time I was bitten that I new it was not a flu and I thought my head was going to fly off. The third time and beyond have not been as bad for some reason. I have 2 pieces of furniture that I cannot move on my own and when a friend helps me move them we find nothing. My home is nearly all white and very clean and I have only seen this spider twice but the bites more often. I nearly lost both of my cats but suspected what the problem with them was and had the vet give a 10 day antibiotic shot both times which saved their lives. I will not spray as I live in a condo. I am thinking of using sprigs of Euc, mint and lemon to at least drive the spider out. I have numerous night lights and often sleep with all room lights on.

    Reply
    • 1. Immature females, spiderligs and male spiders are not dangerous. Their fangs are too short to inflict a poisonous bite. 2. They produce quite strong webs around their dwelling spots. Since you find nothing, it’s not widows 🙂
      3. Widow spiders don’t go hunting by leaving their nests or attack people for no reason. If that was true, I would have been dead probably lol.

      Reply
    • 1. Immature females, spiderligs and male spiders are not dangerous. Their fangs are too short to inflict a poisonous bite. 2. They produce quite strong webs around their dwelling spots. Since you find nothing, it’s not widows 🙂
      3. Widow spiders don’t go hunting by leaving their nests or attack people for no reason. If that was true, I would have been dead probably lol.

      Reply
  3. I appreciate your efforts to answer these questions! It’s good to know this spider is poisonous, and even if not likely to cause death, it does sound very, very painful if a person is bitten.
    It’s interesting, as well. Thanks again.

    Reply
  4. I appreciate your efforts to answer these questions! It’s good to know this spider is poisonous, and even if not likely to cause death, it does sound very, very painful if a person is bitten.
    It’s interesting, as well. Thanks again.

    Reply
  5. That is an immature female black widow. If you don’t take kindly to spiders safely get it away from your house. Or keep it as a kind of pet! I know I have had my female black widow since it was immature like the one in your case.

    Reply
  6. I am so sorry about your dog. I believe myself and my dog were bitten by a northern black widow spider. May I ask your dogs symptoms? My dog is having a hard time breathing she is hot , her ears are twitching and her stomach hurts. My symptoms are profuse sweating, severe cramps under my ribs and I can barely breathe. My voice is hoarse and I can only speak soft. Ive been to the doctor but they are not taking this serious. And say there are no poisonous spiders here in northern Wisconsin. I have a bite on my arm that was excruciating pain swelled up and now just is a slight pain. A month later. And I still can hardly breathe. Any help would be appreciated!!!! Thank you!! I’m on antioniotixs and prednisone for 3 weeks now and inhalers.

    Reply
  7. I find it unseemly for a black widow to be biting at night (and unfindable otherwise) and doing so repeatedly. These spiders make a web and wait for prey to become entangled in it, or to jiggle it enough for the spider to catch the prey.

    Reply
    • Yeah, they don’t attack people, they tend to hide and run. Widows are shy spiders. The commented Sharon Flood’s spider sound more like Brown recluse. Or maybe she’s just bitten by bed bugs lol

      Reply
  8. In my wood pile, I found several large reddish spiders. They seem to be the size of
    a black widow maybe very slightly larger, have the bulbous belly, the long legs and shiny exoskeletons. They are reddish in color and move fast when disturbed. I have not found webs, but this is a box of kindling that they are living in. I thought they might be immature black widows, but they don’t have the markings of the one you show. Perhaps they haven’t had the sunlight to darken up yet, I don’t know, but I bring the wood in to burn, and I find myself hitting each piece of wood and kindling so that I don’t bring them inside. You don’t seem to advocate extermination, but I want to feel safe in my own home.

    Reply
  9. In my wood pile, I found several large reddish spiders. They seem to be the size of
    a black widow maybe very slightly larger, have the bulbous belly, the long legs and shiny exoskeletons. They are reddish in color and move fast when disturbed. I have not found webs, but this is a box of kindling that they are living in. I thought they might be immature black widows, but they don’t have the markings of the one you show. Perhaps they haven’t had the sunlight to darken up yet, I don’t know, but I bring the wood in to burn, and I find myself hitting each piece of wood and kindling so that I don’t bring them inside. You don’t seem to advocate extermination, but I want to feel safe in my own home.

    Reply
  10. This is much ore likely to be a brown widow than an immature black widow. A simple google image search for them will help you make a more valid comparison to the spiders you are seeing at your home. While still quite venomous, the brown widow’s bite is considered less dangerous than a black widow, and they are much more timid and unlikely to bite humans.

    Reply
    • Reviewing this old posting with no location listed, we believe you are correct. At the time this was posted, 2007, we were not yet aware of the introduced Brown Widow being in North America, but a month later, we posted our first Brown Widow submission from Georgia. BugGuide states: “It was introduced in Florida and has since been observed moving north through Georgia, and into South Carolina; it has also been officially recorded in California, Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas,” but BugGuide does not provide a date for their arrival in North America. According to the Center for Invasive Species Research: “The brown widow spider, Latrodectus geometricus, became established in Southern California in early 2000 and has become well entrenched as part of the local spider fauna in urban Los Angeles and San Diego. The brown widow spider is continuing its expansion in Southern California and could possibly move northward into Central California.”

      Reply

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