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Just about any spider can inspire fear and disgust in the average person, which is unfortunate. Many spiders are harmless to humans and beneficial to the environment. Black widows on the other hand are an exception. Though they are beneficial to the environment in the wild, they are definitely not harmless to humans. Read on for an overview and answers to common questions about Black Widows!
The females are jet black spiders with a leg-span of about one-and-a-half inches and are famously recognized by the red “hourglass” figure on the underside of their abdomens. (The hourglass serves as a warning to potential predators.) The males of the species are smaller, lighter in color, and have a smaller reddish marking on their backs. Though the males are also technically venomous, they do not produce the dangerous amount of venom that the females do. The males are basically harmless to humans – and are so reclusive you are not likely to ever see one.
They are found worldwide, and are definitely well established throughout the state of Arizona. You might find them around your property in boxes with stored articles, in sheds, in brush and bushes around your yard, in trees, behind appliances, in mailboxes, etc. Anywhere that’s dark and concealing is attractive real estate to a Black Widow.
Additionally, they are nocturnal and are most active in the night hours. They hide during the day and are not generally a threat unless provoked.
They have a venomous bite that usually begins with a mild stinging sensation, or no pain at all. However, intense pain eventually sets in and may spread to the victim’s torso. Additional symptoms include nausea, vomiting, trouble breathing, excessive sweating, and more. A Black Widow’s venom is among the strongest in the country, but is usually not fatal to healthy adult humans. Children, the elderly, and adults who experience extreme symptoms following a bite should seek medical attention right away!
Aside from the hazard their venom poses, they are good at keeping other insects under control in your household and pose no threat to lawns, plants, or gardens. This is small consolation though if you’re ever the victim of a bite!
Generally, they eat any insects small enough to get trapped in their web. This may include flies, beetles, crickets, and grasshoppers, among others. Once caught in its web the Black Widow injects its venom, which dissolves the insides of the insect, and drinks the contents. So, the more bugs you have around, the happier they eat! (And the more they reproduce!)
Speaking of reproduction – they reproduce by laying eggs in a visible sac. You might notice the sacs around your house or yard. If you do, prepare for an infestation of babies soon! If you don’t believe us, check out this video by National Geographic….
As with most insects and pests, the best prevention is to keep your house and yard clean and free of clutter. This will help eliminate the hiding spaces they seek out to begin with. Once they have moved in and you have an infestation, the best way to get rid of them is to have a professional spray them directly and remove the web. We offer a monthly residential pest control service that will do the job, as well as a fogging service for extreme cases.
For funsies, and for more information, you can check out this National Geographic article about Black Widows, too!