Black widow spiders are a scary thing, especially if you find one in or around your home. You may not know how to deal with them or get rid of them. Learning how to kill a black widow spider is pretty cut and dry, but the process leading up to finding it and then executing the plan can be exhausting. Below you will learn more about the black widow spider and all of it’s habits.
What is a black widow spider?
The black widow spider is obviously an arachnid. There are several species of black widow spiders located across the United States. Their body is roughly half an inch long, not including the legs. In a perfect world the markings on this pest would be clear, but sometimes they are not. These spiders are completely black, except for a red pattern on their body. Ideally it should look like an hourglass, though sometimes it is a little off. Sometimes the fatter black widow spiders will appear dark brown or with a tint of plum because their abdomen has been stretched from eating so much food.
Male black widow spiders are smaller than the females, and aren’t nearly as much trouble. The reason the black widow spider is called what it is called is because typically after mating, the female will devour the male. It is a repetitive cycle and also why the female is more feared than her male counterpart.
Reproduction of the black widow spider
This is incredibly important to know, especially when you are considering how to kill a black widow spider. Since the female spiders can store enough sperm from their first mating to produce 10 egg sacs, you could easily develop an infestation from one female black widow in your home. Typically there are 300 eggs per sac and if she lays 10, that is 3000 black widow spiders. To call that an infestation is an understatement.
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The egg sac is going to be incredibly strong. You will be able to identify it because it will appear in a teardrop sac. With a yellowish coloring, there is no mistaking it for anything else. If you do happen to see one, you will need to dispose of it immediately to avoid the hatching of little spiderlings. The mother will guard the egg sacs until they hatch. While many may hatch, several of them will not make it because as young, black widow spiders will eat one another. It is survival of the fittest for them.
The lifespan of the black widow is only around a year. While some have lived up to three years, it is only in captivity that something like that has occurred. This indicates that if you have an infestation, the female black widow has likely laid eggs around your home.
While there are area-specific species, black widow spiders are found across the United States. There have been some found as far north as Canada, though that is not the norm. They tend to prefer drier climates and warmer temperatures. So while you may be okay in the summer, the colder months are when these spiders will be seeking shelter.
As far as where you may find these pests in your home or yard, the list below will suggest places they may be and why they choose these specific spots.
- Abandoned rodent holes. This is the perfect spot for a black widow to nest and keep close watch on her eggs. Plenty of insects crawl along the ground and she will likely find a meal quite easy. Also, the rodent who built the hole is likely long gone and the spider won’t have to battle over her home.
- In wood piles. If you are burning wood in a bonfire or in your home, you will need to inspect the wood you are carrying. Black widows are known to nest and build webs in these wood piles.
- Garages or sheds. Because these places are generally warmer than the outside during winter, black widow spiders often make themselves at home in a corner of one of these buildings.
- Cluttered areas in the home. If you have rooms filled with junk, it becomes a prime hiding spot for pests. Check when you move things around because you don’t want to be bitten by one of these black widow spiders.
What do I do if I get bit by a black widow spider?
You may not even know you have been bitten by a black widow spider. You likely won’t even know how to kill a black widow spider, but you will want to. The symptoms that the venom of the black widow spider carries can vary greatly person to person. Children and the elderly are often more susceptible to worse reactions, but otherwise healthy individuals can also have bad reactions. These are some of the symptoms you may experience after being bit by a black widow spider.
- Localized pain at the site. You may feel achy pain or sharp pains, and this is likely when you first notice you have been bitten.
- Raise in blood pressure and heart rate
- Symptoms similar to a gall bladder attack or appendicitis
There are not many reports of death by black widow spider bite, and only the severest reactions have occurred in elderly adults and small children. You may need medical attention, even if you aren’t having a full blown reaction. It is recommended you get checked out and if you can, try and catch the black widow spider in a jar to bring to the doctor or hospital for identification.
How to kill a black widow spider
If you have encountered a black widow spider, you are likely a little frightened. There is so much hype about them and their deadly bites. You immediately want to know how to kill a black widow spider in order to ensure you or someone else in your home does not get bit. The only true way to kill a black widow spider is to use insecticide. Of course if you are brave enough, you can step on it with your shoe. It isn’t recommended because you could end up being bitten by the black widow spider in retaliation.
After you have killed the black widow spider, you will need to scope out the area for any eggs. Generally the black widow gets incredibly territorial when it comes to babies she has, so make sure you check every single inch of the area you have removed the spider from. You will then need to move on to prevention. If the black widow spider found a way into your home and you have not found a web or nesting area, chances are her babies are outside of your home somewhere.
Prevention of a black widow spider infestation
After an interaction with and learning how to kill a black widow spider, you should be well on your way to learning how to prevent a recurrence. Below are the steps you should be taking and how they will help with the effort to avoid these dangerous pests.
- De-clutter your home. If you have clutter, black widows will have hiding places. Make sure you are wearing gloves while doing this, especially if it is near where the black widow was spotted before you killed it.
- Clean everything out. You will need to do some serious “spring” cleaning. Make sure you are checking on top of cabinets, in the corner of rooms, and even in crawl spaces and attics. Everything inch of your home needs to be cleaned, including closets.
- Sanitize. Bleach and water work really well for something like this. You do not have to purchase fancy products. Make sure everything is wiped down as best as you can, especially areas where the black widow was discovered.
- Fill any holes. From holes in the screen of your windows to holes in the siding, these need to be addressed immediately. If the black widow spiderlings find a way into your home, your problem will multiple immensely.
- Use insecticide spray around your home. Spray the perimeter of your home around the foundation, around the windows and doors, and in your garages and sheds. Be sure to read the information about whether or not the spray is harmful to children or animals, and use it accordingly.
Learning how to kill a black widow spider is pretty cut and dry. There is definitely a stigma attached to these pests and they cause great fear in many people at the mere mention of the name. While a black widow bite won’t usually kill you, it could cause you some serious pain. If you have encountered one of these pests in your home, you will need to deal with the issue immediately to avoid being bitten in the future. Make sure you use the preventative measures as well. Follow through is huge when considering pests and re-entry to your home. Black widow spiders are potentially dangerous if not handled with extreme caution.