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Black Widow Spiders

Description of Pest: Black widow spiders live throughout warmer regions and are prevalent throughout North Carolina. They tend to live in dark, cluttered areas like woodpiles, rock piles and generally any dark area that is unlikely to be disturbed.

Size: Including legs: 1.5 inches on average.

Color: As their name implies, black widow spiders are black and shiny. Females have a larger, round abdomen with a red hourglass mark on the abdomen. Males tend to have a smaller abdomen, are more gray in color, and have red and white streaks across their abdomen.

Habitat: Nesting is typically done in dark, secluded areas that are unlikely to ever be disturbed. Wood piles, debris, dark spaces under furniture, etc. Caution should be taken whenever disturbing dark, secluded areas that often see no movement or light.

Food: Black Widows typically prey on roaches, beetles, moths, flies, and other arthropods.

Behavior: Aggressive if a nest is present. Often females will eat males to provide nourishment and to fertilize her eggs. Like most spiders, Black Widows use a web to trap prey, immobilize it with their bite, and then consume it. A Black Widow’s bite is poisonous to humans, though not often reported as painful. The venom from a  bite affects the central nervous system immediately. Typical symptoms include nausea, chills, breathing difficulties, cold sweats, delirium and heart palpitations. If you ever suspect you may have been bitten by a Black Widow, seek medical attention quickly. Recovery typically takes a week, however children and the elderly are at greater risk for death.

Prevention: Store-bought sprays and foggers have little to no effect on Black Widow spiders. Preventative measures are key, including:

  • Clearing wood piles and debris.
  • Minimizing clutter.
  • Wearing gloves when working outside around possible nesting areas.

However should you become concerned about black widows in your home, contact a pest control professional immediately for an inspection.

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