Black Widow Spiders

Black Widow Spiders are considered venomous spiders in North America. Black Widow spiders are not usually deadly, especially to adults, because they inject only a small amount of venom. This spider attempts to escape rather than bite. It may bite in defense as it guards eggs or is cornered and pressed. At times, the female eats the male after mating, earning the name "widow."

How To Get Rid of Black Widow Spiders

Black Widow Control Tips

  1. To control black widow spiders, carefully remove all materials where they might hide.
  2. Always wear gloves when handling debris or material like firewood.
  3. Don't garden, handle firewood, pine straw, etc, without gloves.
  4. Don't go barefoot.
  5. Eliminate as much clutter as possible in storage areas and frequently dust and vacumn around windows, corners of rooms, and under furniture.
  6. Trim weeds around the building foundation and remove debris to discourage insects and spiders from living next to a structure.
  7. Seal openings and install screens and door sweeps to prevent spiders (as well as other unwanted pests) from moving indoors.
  8. Use a vacuum cleaner to remove webs, spiders and their egg sacs.

Recommended Products for Black Widow Spider Control

  • Concentrates: Use LambdaStar UltraCap 9.7, Cyper WSP, Onslaught, or D-Fense SC. These are liquid residual concentrates that you mix with water and spray. Spray around the foundation perimeter. Spray about 1-2 feet up the exterior wall and 3-10 feet out from the exterior wall as a liquid barrier. Also spray around window frames, door frames, soffit areas, vent openings, exhaust areas, garages, basements, mounted lights, air conditioning areas, cable entry points, deck areas, stoop and patio areas.
  • Dusts: Dusting is useful if there are voids such as electric outlets, switch plate covers or vent areas where spiders are emerging. Using a hand duster like Bellows duster would allow for easier dusting. D-Fense Dust would be the recommended insecticide dust. Using D-Fense Dust dusted in the attic area would be a good measure if there is an infestation in the attic area. Delta Dust may be used in your crawl space, it is moisture proof. Dustin Mizer makes dusting an attic easier, giving an even dust disbursion.

  • Aerosols: On the inside, using an aerosol with pyrethrin like CB 80 should be used to give a contact kill to visible spiders. It will also flush out hidden spiders.

How to Identify Black Widow Spiders


The female black widow spider is the most easily recognized, her shiny black body giving great contrast to the red hourglass marking on her round abdomen.

Adult black widow spider males are harmless, about half the female's size, and usually have yellow and red bands with spots on their backs.

The legs of the male are much longer in proportion to his body than that of the female, with its body half the size.


Black Widow Spider Habits

Black widow spiders can be found on the underside of ledges, rocks, plants and debris, wherever a web can be strung. Cold weather and drought may drive these spiders into buildings.

The female black widow spider rarely leaves her web,and retreats waiting for her prey. The web she constructs is an irregular, tangled, criss-cross web of rather coarse silk. They can be found under stones, outside boards, along foundational slabs, behind shrubs, and along sliding that touches the ground.

This same web may be rebuilt or changed on an ongoing basis depending upon her needs. This female spider spends most of her daylight hours there. She is often found hanging upside down.

The female captures her victims with her silk, wrapping it around the prey .
After the covering of the silk, the prey is killed by an injection of venom.
The prey might be eaten immediately or reserved for a later feeding.

She stays close to her egg mass, defensively biting anything that disturbs her or her egg sac. Egg sacs are oval, brown, papery and about ½ inch long. They hold from 25 to 750 or more eggs, which have an incubation period of 20 days. Newly hatched spiders are predominately white or yellowish-white, gradually acquiring more black and varying amounts of red and white with each molt. Growth requires two to three months, with older black widow spider females dying in autumn after egg laying.

The female black widow stores sperm, producing more egg sacs without mating. Some black widow spider females live more than three years.

Black Widow Distribution


The black widow spider’s range is from Massachusetts to Florida and west to California, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

Although they can be found in almost every state (and some portions of Canada), this spider is most common in the Southern areas of the United States.


Black Widow Spider Bites

The venom in the black widow bite is toxic to the nervous system. There are many variables to a person's reaction to a bite. The severity may depend on the body weight, the person's general sensitivity, where the bite occurred, the amount of venom that was injected, depth of bite, ect.

  • You may not always feel the black widow spider bite at first. The first sign of a bite is a small local swelling.
  • There may be two small red spots in the center of the swelling. After three hours or so, the site of the bite becomes more painful.
  • Common reactions include an overall ache of the body, in particular the legs. Other symptoms include alternating salivation and dry-mouth, paralysis of the diaphragm, profuse sweating and swollen eyelids. In severe cases, a headache, elevated blood pressure, nausea and perspiration could occur.
  • The poison injected by the Black Widow Spiders bite can cause abdominal pain similar to appendicitis as well as pain to muscles or the soles of the feet.
  • In most cases symptoms disappear in two or three days.
  • Calcium gluconate is used intravenously to relieve and relax muscle spasms produced by black widow venom.
  • The victim of a black widow bite should go to the doctor immediately for treatment
  • Clean the site of the bite well with soap and water.
    Apply a cool compress over the bite location and keep the affected limb elevated to about heart level.
    Aspirin or Tylenol may be used to relieve minor symptoms.
    Treatment in a medical facility may be necessary for children less than 5 years old or for adults with severe symptoms.
  • Take proper precautions, wear gloves and pay attention to where you are working.