Of all the spiders in the United States, the black widow is possibly the most well-known. Whether it is from cinematic horror films to an experience a friend or family member has had, these spiders are not exactly known for being friendly. They are also one of the most feared, and with good reason. Black widows are a poisonous type of spider.

Black widow spider on a web

Black widows are found all over the globe. They are not necessarily limited to just the United States. However, there are a few species of black widow spiders, the most common being the Latrodectus genus that inhabit the United States in several southern regions. If you want to avoid run-ins with these particularly scary spiders, it’s good to know what they look like, and where they live.

California is one of the more common places black widows call home. They do inhabit most Southern states ranging from Texas to California. While these spiders can seem rather frightening, they really just like being left alone. It is best to avoid them, when possible, as they will be a defensive.

Black widows like to hide. Where do black widow spiders live in our homes? They prefer cold, dark areas to create their webs. The ideal location for black widow spiders to call home include in homes and barns. But these spiders are often found in fallen tree branches, piles of wood, and even rock piles. The spiders naturally go to these areas, as they are typically out of the way of common predators and humans.

While black widows can be inside the home, they aren’t known for doing this often. Instead, they like having access to the outdoors as that is where their food source lives. Barns, for example, offer a great combination of shelter and food for them that is easily accessible.

What Do Black Widows Look Like?

Black widow spider on a log

Black widows are one of the easiest to identify spiders in the world. However, when most people think of these types of spiders, they envision the larger female, not the male. Both the female and male present with the black body with the vibrant markings on their stomach, the underside of their body. The makings can be either red or orange and look very similar to an hourglass. Their size can range from a mere 3mm up to 10mm. However, female black widows are known to reach proportions up to 13mm. Both the males and females can be seen with the iconic red hourglass and white stripes, but females are the more than likely culprit if you see the bright red. Males often have a more orange color to their hourglass.

The black widow got its name from its mating habits. Females will often resort to cannibalism after mating, eating the males. This could be a primary reason why the female is more commonly seen than the male. When it comes to reproducing, black widows can have dozens of baby spiders. In a single web with cocoon, there can be up to 100 eggs inside.

Are Black Widows Really That Dangerous?

Most people will have a tendency to want to run from a black widow. While to humans, it can be dangerous to be bitten by a black widow, they are suitable for our environment. They will eat many different types of insects and bugs. This is good for controlling the insect population and preventing overpopulation. While these are significant beneficial characteristics for a spider to have, avoiding the spiders, especially the female, is an excellent idea.

As mentioned above, black widows are poisonous. Their venom is filled with neurotoxins. When they capture an insect in their web, they will bite their prey. The poison will cause the insect to become paralyzed. This will allow the spider to feed on the insect easily. The neurotoxins, in most cases, kill the prey, quickly. Similarly, the neurotoxins will affect humans too. While it may not be as rapid or severe, there can be drastic complications to arise with a black widow bite.

At first, the area that has been bite will feel sore, and there will be redness. Very quickly, the discomfort will turn into affecting the nervous system. In addition to the pain at the site of the bite, it will spread throughout the body. How a person reacts is dependant on their bodies response to the poison. Some people only experience mild issues with pain at the bite site, while others experience more severe reactions.

One of the worst side effects can be going into anaphylactic shock. The venom in the spider can cause your lungs to paralyze, which makes breathing difficult to nearly impossible. Seeking medical treatment is critical after a black widow bite. It is best not to wait for medical attention, especially if you have never been bitten by one before. Because the severity of reactions will vary significantly between one person and another, it is best to be cautious and get medical help right away. It is important to note that in most cases, a bite from a black widow won’t kill you. But they can be life-threatening to those that have a more allergic reaction to the venom, which is why it is best not to take chances.

Signs Your Property Has a Black Widow Infestation

Close up image of a spiderweb

Now that you know what the spiders look like and where they hide, you are probably wondering if there are any noticeable signs to be on the lookout for. Black widows, just like every other spider, will spin a web. Their webs, however, will be large and irregular looking. There is no rhyme or reason and no real pattern. The only requirement for the black widow is that the web is large enough to catch dinner.

In the center of the web usually lays a cocoon filled with over a hundred eggs. The cocoon will be white and can reach sizes similar to the size of the spider. It is best to avoid these webs. If you notice any of these on your property is best to call for help from your local pest controller. A professional pest controller can eliminate signs of the black widow, remove any nests it has created, and apply natural pesticides to deter spiders from returning.

Spiders are the most difficult pest to eliminate from the home. Often they are unavoidable. Pesticides are typically ineffective, so the main concern is reducing the web and any active infestation. Natural pesticides that contain rosemary and other essential oils can be beneficial to ward off new black widows. Consult with your local pest control company for remedies to black spiders. Traps can also be used if there is a commonplace the spiders keep appearing.

Can You Prevent Black Widows on Your Property?

Spiders are complicated to get rid of and can be even more difficult to ward off, especially outside the home. While inside, there are a few options for limiting the appearance of spiders and them creating webs, this is not always the case outside. A pest control company may be able to offer some solutions as to the best preventative treatments for your particular situation whether it be in a barn, your home, or in a pile of wood you are saving for winter. Often the use of chemical pesticides is ineffective against spiders unless the spray directly hits them. Deterrents and traps are considered the most effective solution, next to making areas more uninhabitable, destroying the webs and making the area extremely clean.