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Black Widow Spider

<strong>Class: Spider
Other names: Hourglass spider, shoe-button spider
Color: Shiny black with red or orange hourglass shape (or dot) on its abdomen
Diet: Eats flies, mosquitoes, grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars
Predators: Some types of wasps, praying mantis, alligator lizards
Hazard: Venomous bite; seek medical attention immediately
Interesting Fact: Newly hatched black widow spiders are cannibalistic; they will eat each other until only a few nymphs survive from the hundreds of eggs in each sac.

An Hourglass You Don’t Want in Your Home

The black widow spider is one of only three venomous spiders in North America. Only females bite, and their venom is 15 times stronger than rattlesnake venom. Although a black widow spider bite is not usually fatal, it does kill five percent of its victims, often young children, people who are ill and the elderly.

The female black widow spider has:

  • A round, shiny black body 1 ½ to 1 ⅜ inches long
  • A red-orange or yellow hourglass-shaped mark or even a dot on its belly

Males are smaller and lighter in color with a red or pale brown stripe down the middle of their back and white or yellow streaks radiating outward.

The black widow spider gets its name because the female has the reputation of always killing the male after mating. But this does not always happen; some males do survive.

Check before reaching

Black widow spiders build large, irregular webs which they use to snare prey and to hold their egg sacs, which contain hundreds of eggs. They prefer dark, damp and protected places such as sheds and other outdoor structures, cracks in stone walls, fences and woodpiles and even porch furniture. They seek out basement and crawl space areas inside the home.

Black widows are not usually aggressive, but will attack if they feel that they or their eggs are threatened. It’s always a good idea to check for these spiders if you’re reaching for a tool in the back of a shed or putting on shoes stored outdoors or in a garage or shed.

If you’re bitten by a black widow spider it may feel like a pinprick at first, but within 15 minutes more severe symptoms can occur:

  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Paralysis of the diaphragm

These symptoms can last for several days to a few weeks.

If you suspect you’ve been bitten by a black widow, try slowing the spread of venom by applying ice to the bite area and elevating and immobilizing the bite area. Call for medical help immediately.

You can vacuum up black widow spiders, but if an infestation is bad don’t wait. Call the experts at Brody Brothers for help in keeping these dangerous spiders out of your home.

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