Common FAQ’s About Black Widow Spiders
Characteristics of Black Widow Spiders
There are certain traits that make telling a black widow spider apart from any other ordinary black spider. While there are a few black spiders with similar body types and coloring, the black widow has some characteristics that help it stand out from the rest.
Aside from Alaska, black widow spiders can be found in any state across the USA. These spiders prefer to avoid human contact and will search for the least used area of your home to make their web.
Female black widows are known for their sleek, shiny black bodies, coupled with a bright red marking on their back. Sometimes brown or orange, this marking is seen in the shape of an hourglass figure, though sometimes is much smaller or oddly shaped depending on the individual spider. An adult female spider will likely have a more prominent marking, as they grow and deepen in color with maturity.
Unlike females, male black widow spiders are often smaller than their female counterparts. They are often a translucent brown and have a shorter lifespan than females.
The male only has one job- fertilizing the female’s eggs. After breeding, the male will be consumed by the female, as his role has been completed and the female will need nutrition to help her babies grow.
Black widows are very reclusive, and will often avoid humans when possible. This is why they seek out areas with little foot traffic, as they do not want to be disturbed.
While black widow spiders will consume most insects smaller than themselves, they’ve been known to feed on creatures such as wasps, large beetles and cockroaches, and even other types of spiders.
Black widows are equipped with a deadly venom to easily kill their prey for consumption.
Black Widow Look-Alikes: Other Black Spider Breeds
With its distinctive markings, it’s easy to tell the black widow apart from most other spiders, but there is one other spider that is very similar in appearance. The false black widow spider is given its name from its similarities to the black widow.
With a similar color and body type to the black widow spider, the false black widow is separated only by its lack of the well known red mark. It also takes on more of a deep brown color than the black widow and has less of a shine to its body.
Is This Breed Dangerous?
Similarly to the black widow, the false black widow spider prefers to steer clear of humans. Bites are rarely a form of aggression from the spider, and only happen if a human or animal were to get too close and startle the spider.
Unlike its counterpart, the false black widow spider’s venom does not have serious or long-lasting effects and is rarely felt at first.
A few minutes after a false black widow spider bites you, a weal will form and a burning sensation will accompany the bite. The area around the bite will begin to develop swelling and soreness after a few hours, along with a tingling sensation.
While unpleasant to look at, the bite will go away on its own with time, though there are certain remedies to aid the healing process.
Should the bite wound not heal within a few days, you should see your doctor for additional treatment.
Getting Rid of False Black Widow Spiders
While not particularly dangerous, it’s preferable to not have any spiders in your home.
Certain pesticides and other forms of treatments can be applied to the areas where spiders are most likely to weave webs, including the corners of your home, windowsills, door frames, and underneath/behind pieces of furniture.
If you suspect that you are in an area prone to spider infestations, it’s important to continue the routine regularly to avoid the spiders reentering your home. You can also contact a professional to deal with the spider infestations quickly and easily.
Dangers of Black Widow Spiders
Black widow spiders at one of the most dangerous types of spider in America, ranking in the top three for its venom. However, due to its avoidance of humans, bites from this particular spider are rare; unless you accidentally alert a black widow by touching, trapping, or stepping on it accidentally, you are likely safe from its venom. A black widow will not go out of its way to bite a human, and are considered a non-aggressive breed.
So why is the black widow considered so dangerous if its bites are so rare?
When a black widow bites a human, the effects of its venom are nearly instantaneous and can have serious lasting damage on its victim.
Effects of Black Widow Venom
While death from a black widow bite is rare, the venom it injects can still cause a great amount of damage.
Pain does not occur immediately but becomes excruciating anywhere between minutes and hours after the initial bite. It often comes as a burning sensation radiating around the bite itself.
After pain sets in, muscle contractions and cramps will begin. The pain and cramping will often leak into the abdomen, causing further distress. Weakness and tremors will continue after this, leaving the body unable to fight off the spread of the venom.
In an attempt to get rid of the toxin, the body will develop severe nausea and vomiting. All of these effects combined can cause the victim to faint.
Symptoms get much worse from here, and any damage the venom causes can become permanent. Chest pain will begin as the venom makes its way up to the heart, and this has even been known to cause heart attacks. Breathing difficulty is soon to follow, as the heart beats too fast for oxygen to circulate properly.
Although death is uncommon when it comes to black widow bites, it’s still important to measure symptoms and immediately seek medical help.
How to Tell if You’ve Been Bitten
Along with the above symptoms of a black widow spider bite, there are a few key factors to tell if you’ve been bitten. The bite itself will feel like a pinprick, and it will appear on the skin as two small, red dots. The area will quickly become swollen and painful. It may also be accompanied by a rash or itchiness along with the usual symptoms.
If you find a bite, immediately apply a cold compress to the area to reduce swelling and pain. It’s important to immediately get medical attention if you suspect the bite is from a black widow to avoid serious injury.
How to Avoid Being Bitten
Because of their behavior pattern, it’s easy to avoid being bitten by a black widow. Do regular inspections of your home, particularly in low-traffic areas and behind pieces of furniture that are rarely used, and check your shoes and clothing before wearing them if you suspect you may have black widows in your home.
Keep your bed away from the walls of your home to avoid sleeping near one. Vacuum regularly under furniture and keep your home clean to ensure that you do not unknowingly have a black widow in your home.
Should you see a black widow, do not antagonize it; contact a professional to deal with the spider to avoid a trip to the hospital.
How to Get Rid of Black Widow Spiders
Contacting an exterminator is an easy, cheap, and safe method of getting existing black widow spiders from your home, though if you’d prefer to do the job yourself, there are certain tools that you can use. Bug vacuums, window sealant, zenprox aerosol and certain pesticides can be used to get rid of the spiders.
If you do choose to take on the task yourself, always use caution and be sure to keep your distance from the black widow to avoid being bit.
Thankfully, there are not many black spiders that can be confused with the distinctive appearance of the black widow spider, and although their venom is toxic, a black widow can easily be avoided and dealt with once you know they are there.
Have you had a run in with a black widow spider? What was your experience?
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