Spiders: The Black Widow

The black widow spider is the most venomous spider in the U.S. Interestingly, only the female black widow spider holds the claim to fame as the most venomous spider in the U.S. That’s because the male black widow spider can’t quite match up to its female counterpart. Yes, male black widows do have venom in them, but not nearly as much or as strong as the female. The female’s venom is said to be as strong as some rattlesnake’s venom. If you’ve been bitten, it’s important to try to capture the spider so you can check to see if it is male or female.

black widow spider female

Here is a female black widow spider.

There are distinct differences between the male and female to help identify them in the case of a bite. The female can be up to an inch and a half long and has a round shiny black body with a red spot in a shape resembling an hour glass. The male is smaller in size than the female but also has a round shiny black body. The body is usually smaller with longer legs than the females. Males have red and yellow stripes or spots on their bodies. In any case, a black widow spider bite should be taken seriously, especially in children and elder people. If you have determined the spider bite is from a female it would be best to go to the nearest hospital. There are also a few at-home first-aid steps for a black widow spider bite you can take to help aid the bite.

The black widow hangs upside down from its web which can sometimes be helpful to see its color and distinguish if it is male or female. The web that they hang from is silky, sticky, strong and often looks like it is tangled up.

The web for a black widow spider plays a few different roles. They spend most of their time in their web and do not like to venture far from it. The black widow sleeps on or near its web during the day because it is nocturnal. The black widows eat other insects that get trapped in its web like crickets, cockroaches, small spiders, and beetles. If no insects have been trapped within the web, the black widow will go hunt for its prey.

There are times where an object can be found hanging from the web. It is white to brown in color and some people say it looks like a moth ball. In reality, it is actually a sack of eggs that the spider has laid.

spiders black widow egg sack

Hanging on the side of a planter, this black widow is protecting her egg sacks.

The black widow reproduces in the summer time. It can take up to 30 days for the babies to come out of the sack. There can be anywhere from 100 to 600 baby black widow spiders in one sack, however not nearly as many are born. Oddly enough, baby spiders are cannibals and eat one another to survive until they are hatched. Sometimes only as many as 15 babies will survive. This notion of cannibalism can be found in adult female black widows too. While it does not happen in such a high frequency as the babies, the female will sometimes eat the male after mating with him.

The black widow spider lives all over the United States, although it is more prominent in the southern part of the country. Therefore, no matter where you are living, always check for black widow spider webs because many times, the spiders can be found on their webs. It is a natural reaction to get an object and try to kill one when found, however that is actually a very bad idea. The black widow can be harmless if it’s not disturbed. When people disturb it by trying to kill it, they will usually attack. If you do find black widows on your property, be very careful of what you do. It is best to just call your local pest control company to come out and take care of the spiders, so you do not risk getting attacked.

Many people find black widow spider webs inside and outside of their home. They like to spin their webs close to the ground so most often they will be found in dark areas and corners of the home, or even outside of the structure. Storage sheds or garages are also a popular place for the black widow to make its web. As with many other types of pests the black widow spider can be found in piles of wood, storage boxes, and underneath objects. They also like to live close to their food supply, which consists of other insects. So if you have a lot of crickets, cockroaches, beetles, or spiders around your home, have a professional pest control company come to your house regularly or use some store-bought spray and do-it-yourself. Read our blog on tips for preventing black widow spiders from your home.

Picture from www.creativecommons.org

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5 Responses to “Spiders: The Black Widow”

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  4. Inside the home, pests of all kinds can cause many different kinds of damage, much of which can go unseen for years. Although you may be treating those you can see quite effectively with store bought pest control products, some can lurk in the shadows or behind the walls themselves for years.

  5. Claude Banko says:

    Who’s been sleeping in my bed? GERMAN ROACHES!! I am completely buggin out with bed bugs. Your article has been a great source of comfort.

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