Black Widow Spiders
Physical Characteristics - The Black Widow is commonly identified by its most-recognized feature: two red triangular markings down its round, black shiny abdomen; the marking bears a resemblance to the silhouette of an hour-glass. Surprisingly, the red hour-glass marking is what distinguishes a female Black Widow Spider from a male Black Widow Spider. Much smaller in size compared to its mate (females measuring from 1 ½ to 1 ⅜ inches in length), the male Black Widow is also lighter in color and marked with spots ranging from red, pink, orange, or tan. Although bites from Black Widows are often painful right away, bites are rarely fatal and can be treated without special treatment. Nevertheless, it’s important to protect young children and elderly people from exposure to bites as these may require more serious attention; contact a physician or visit an emergency room for more instructions if you are bitten. In any event, keep reading below to learn more about ways to keep Black Widows from nesting inside or outside of your home.
Habits and Behavior
Black Widows commonly favor dark, dry, and cluttered environments where, for the most part they will be left undisturbed to spin their webs. Outdoor favorites include: under stones, decks and planters, inside hollow tree stumps and aluminum poles, throughout woodpiles, under window eaves and sills, and inside sheds and outhouses. When indoors, Black Widows still prefer dark and undisturbed areas but also seek out locations where a high volume of insects (their food source) are likely to cross their paths. This includes: under kitchen cabinets and sinks, inside crawl spaces near air vents and, throughout garage corners and appliances. One way to identify a Black Widow’s presence is by its signature web which is a thick, chaotic, tangle of threads that can be heard ripping when taken down (see below for advice on how to remove webs should you choose to do the job yourself). Black Widows typically sit upside down in the middle of the tangled center and use their webs as a method to catch their prey and defend themselves from unwanted intruders. The Black Widow is a clumsy and shy spider therefore, it is not likely that you will find a Widow far from its web except for the occasional hunt for food. However, much like a mama bear protects its cubs, Female Black Widows will attack when their eggs are threatened.
Treatment and Preventive Measures
The best way to achieve and maintain a Black Widow-Free environment (both indoors and outdoors) is to refrain from clutter. Address any areas where debris has accumulated with adequate cleaning to avoid the likelihood of pest harborage. If performing DIY (do-it-yourself) Black Widow treatments - always wear proper protective clothing including a long-sleeved shirt and pants, gloves and closed-toe shoes. This type of protective clothing is also important when moving stored firewood, boxes and lumber. These are ideal environments for Black Widows therefore, never store firewood against your home. In addition, the installation of tightly fitted screens along with caulked cracks and crevices are effective measures to ensure that Black Widows stay out of your home.