Black Widow Spiders

picture of a black widow spider

Black Widow Spider Control: Protect Your Home

Appearance

What Do Black Widows Look Like?
illustration of a black widow spider
Size: Black widows are small spiders that typically range from 1/2 to just over one inch in size.

Color: Adult spiders of both genders are black in color. Male black widows have white undersides, and spiderlings of either gender typically appear completely white.

Characteristics: The most notable characteristic of the black widow is the red hourglass pattern located on the underside of the female’s abdomen. However, the exact shape of the marking often varies from spider to spider.

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Facts

  • Species: Notorious for their dangerous venom and distinct appearance, several species of black widow spiders exist throughout the United States.
  • Distribution: Of these species, the southern and northern black widows are most prominent in our Mid-Atlantic service area.

Food

What Do Black Widows Eat?
The black widow feeds on a variety of insects. Common prey includes:

Additionally, black widows help reduce local populations of red fire ants and harvester ants.

Biology

Eggs
After mating during the spring and summer months, female black widows lay a clutch of several hundred eggs.

Maturation
Once these eggs hatch, the spiderlings stay with their mothers for several months. When they are ready to leave on their own, the young spiders craft silk parachutes and float away on the wind.

Lifespan
Black widows have short lifespans, with males living less than a year and females living slightly longer than a year.

Detection

  • Webs: Look for sparse, disorganized webs located near the ground in yards and buildings.
  • Seasonal: Be alert for adult spiders during spring and summer.
  • Spiderlings: May notice ballooning spiderlings, which often indicates the presence of an adult female.

Problems Caused by Black Widow Spiders

Bites
Although black widows do not actively attack people, their venom can be dangerous.

While black window bites are relatively painless at first, symptoms develop over time such as:

  • Nausea
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Burning sensations
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing

Despite the harmful effects, black widow venom rarely proves fatal to humans.

Signs of Infestation

Webs
Black widows tend to avoid high-traffic areas in favor of sequestered and quiet environments. They frequently establish webs in:

  • Woodpiles
  • Garages
  • Sheds
  • Basements

Finding sparse and erratically constructed webs close to the ground generally points to black widow presence.

Spiderlings
Additionally, witnessing ballooning spiderlings or spotting adults in the immediate area indicates an infestation.

Prevention Tips

  • Food Supplies: Reducing the presence of insects that black widows feed on will reduce the chance of infestation as well.
  • Seal Cracks: Sealing up cracks around doors and windows also helps prevent the spiders from coming inside.

Tips for Removal from Home

Vacuum
Once black widows establish a presence in the home, vacuuming up any adult spiders or webs and promptly disposing of vacuum bags in outdoor trash bins can effectively eradicate populations.

Contact the Professionals
However, if infestations get out of hand, contacting a pest control professional is the safest option.

Learn more about Western’s comprehensive Home Pest Control Plans.

Call for service: (877) 250-3857