How To Kill Black Widow Spiders
The Fear Of Black Widow Spiders (Arachnophobia)
To begin with, you should know I am a card carrying "Arachnophobia Anonymous" member! I do not like spiders in the yard, the house, or in your yard or your house, or the street, the trees,...well you get the point. Ever since I was bitten by a black widow spider back in the late 1980s, the most frightening of the species for me, is in fact the black-bodied red-clad Black Widow Spider!
Killing Eight Legged Freaks
Even though my thoughts are dialed in on the demise of all eight legs of these creepy crawlers, I am told spiders do serve a purpose in nature. I have never been fully convinced by any spider that it deserved to live, but I am trying to keep an open mind. (Honestly, I must admit it is difficult to hear their spidery pleas with all the screaming and panicking I do.) Regardless, if you are at all like me—on a seek-and-destroy mission when it comes to black widow spiders—here are a few things you should know about killing this particular eight-legged freak.
The Male Black Widow Spider
Are Male Black Widow Spiders Poisonous
It is widely known that the female black widow spider kills and eats her male suitor following mating if he is not swift enough to escape her grasp; she is after all, quite a bit bigger than him. Which is where this particular genus of spider gets its macabre "widow" monicker. But, the truth is she will only eat him if she mistakes him for a meal, which generally happens when she is in captivity, and rarely when in her natural environment. (I can't place all of the blame on her, obscure social behavior is common across all species of life when in captivity, even in humans.) The male black widow is not only about half the size of the misses, he really is considered quite a harmless little guy.
The Venom Of Black Widow Spiders
The female spider has unusually large venom glands that can pack a real wallop should a bite occur. It is rare for a human to die from such a bite, providing proper medical attention is applied to the bite wound site. With his gal-pal in mind, it may seem a little odd that the male black widow spider presents no threat to us at all. This is (thankfully) because, the male black widow has venom that is three times less potent than his big female partner, making his venom totally ineffective on humans. (However, there is little doubt in my mind that he still has got to go!)
What Do Male Black Windows Look Like
The male black widow spider's legs are longer and more gangly than his female counterpart. His color will deepen as he ages, turning to a deep brownish-black over time. When he was a young naïve arachnid, he proudly sported a subtle brownish-orange to translucence-white 1exoskeleton.
An adult male black widow sports a far less sinister look than does the shiny-black and bright-red hourglass tattooed gal he calls, "Darling". Rather than wearing a cloche of black, the adult male widow is generally dressed in a classic dark-brown or off-black suit with a couple of lovely light-yellow or white stripes, as well as a tasteful-few red dots across the back.
1 Exoskeleton is the hard outer protection of the spider's body made from chitin and protein. It's like wearing your skeleton on the outside.
Black Widow Spider Fact
The black widow spider belongs to the "cobweb" spider family. They spin trap-webs that are loosely organized, but have an amazingly high degree of entrapment engineering applied. Unlike most cobweb spiders, the widow hides under furniture and appliances throughout the home leaving the rest of the family to clutter up the corners where your ceilings and walls meet.
Black Widow Spider's Natural Enemies
Does the Black Widow Spider Have a Natural Enemy
Even as they have not been considered as biocontrol sources for the black widow spider, a few parasites and predators are considered to be its natural enemies. Below is a chart that gives you the common, as well as scientific names of these enemies.
Natural Enemies of Black Widow Spiders
STAGE OF LIFE KILLED
Kills Egg Sac
Flightless Scelionid Wasp
Members of the Chloropid Fly
Kills Adut Spiders
Blu Mud Dobber Wasp
OTHER SPECIES OF NATURAL ENEMIES
Eucalyptus leaves and their oils
The Black Widow Spiderweb
Black Widow Spider Silk Tinsel Strength
For those who keep up with the spider news, this may not come as a big surprise. But, the tinsel strength of the black widow spiderweb has been tested to be strong, but no stronger than those circular fashioned webs made by orb-weaving spiders. According to studies, the tinsel strength of a black widow spider's web-silk is comparable to the strength of steel wire measuring the same thickness. But, because steel is about six times more dense than spider silk, the silk is quite a bit stronger than steel when measured by weight. No matter the strength of any spider silk, having it plastered across your face as you walk around in the garage is bound to cause some very spastic human reactions!
Where Do Black Widow Spiders Live
What Is The Black Widow Spider's Favorite Habitat
You can be sure to run into a black widow at some point if you provide the following environments for them to hunker down:
- Toy boxes that are deep
- Play structures
- Dark crevices
- Wood pile
- Meter boxes
- Ivy plants
- Trash piles
- Outhouses (privies)
- Furniture that isn't moved a lot
- Under appliances
- Any place that is dark and not regularly disturbed
- Under eves
Because Dark Crevices Are Where Black Widows Like To Live
It is always a good idea to "look before you reach" into any dark, usually undisturbed area around the house. Black widow spiders are kind of shy, so they prefer this type of habitat. The female can stay in the same undisturbed location for her entire life (1 to 3 years in the wild, and as long as four years in captivity) when left alone. The widow generally stays outdoors, where food and mates are more apt to wonder past. But, in the cold wet months she will migrate into your home and join you for the winter.
Black Widow Spider Bite
What Happens When You Get Bit By A Black Widow Spider
The black widow fangs—technically chelicerae—are less than a millimeter long, but they are tiny tubes that are sharp enough to push some of the most powerful neurotoxic venom found on Earth right into your bloodstream.
The black widow venom, alpha-latrotoxin, is twelve-times more poisonous than the same amount of venom unleashed by a rattlesnake. It is a complex poison that affects the control of your cardiovascular and muscular system.
Black Widow Spider Bite Video
The black widow bite, may bring a sudden and very sharp pain. The pain is quick to spread-out from the bite site to your abdominal area, primarily around your stomach and back. Stiffness and cramps are not far behind. Then nausea, increased blood pressure, and difficulty breathing creeps up. Now the vomiting begins, as well as irregular heartbeat, convulsions, and all-over discomfort that can include priapism (unnatural stiffening of the penis...if you're a guy).
The next stage of black widow envenomation results in facial spasms, pale skin, anxiety, and the unnatural and involuntary ability to control your movements. While this is all going on, you will notice that your mucus and spit have increased immensely, and that liquid is now filling your lungs, which will prevent oxygen from traveling to all of your other organs (this is known as non-cardiac pulmonary edema). Which unless you get treatment, the lights to your personal temple are sure to flicker out from hypoxia—reduced oxygen supply to your body's organs.
First Aide For A Black Widow Spider Bite
*Treating a Black Widow Spider Bite
a). Clean the bite site immediately upon discovery.
b). Apply a cold pack to the area to help slow venom absorption into the body.
c). Seek Medical attention.
d). Keep feet raised to chest level (heart level).
e). Envenomation generally responds well to intravenous applications of calcium gluconate or calcium salts.
f). Antivenin is readily available and highly recommended for those who have an extreme reaction to a black widow bite.
*Information on treatment and first aide of a black widow spider bite is derived from:
6 Steps To Getting Rid Of Black Widow Spiders
Killing Black Widow Spiders
1. Identify the black widow spider - Males are harmless, while you must be very cautious around the females. She is a bulbous shiny-black spider with a vibrant red bow-tie shaped mark on her abdomen/back.
2. Use pyrethrin pesticides to kill black widow spiders - Be sure to stay far enough away from a black widow during extermination, as this tiny spider is going to fight back. An aerosol spraying dispenser (spray can or bottle) is recommended. Spray the poison directly on the spider's body and her web. (WEARING A BREATHING FILTER/MASK DURING USE IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.)
3. Kill black widow spiders where they live - Professionals also recommend using pest control dusters. They are pretty cheap and quite effective. Spray crawl spaces, foundation outside, foundation vents, crevices inside. Look for slow release (microencapsulated) formulas, as they will work best.
4. Preventing black widow spider infestations - Prevention is much easier than eradication! Maintain the caulking around widows and doors, and apply weatherstrip to exits.
What You Think Really Does Matter
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5. Plants touching the house can bring black widow spiders - Spiders LOVE Ivy-type crawling plants, and the black widow is no different. Keeping these from actually touching the house can help keep black widows (and other spiders) away.
6. Regular cleaning discourages black widow spiders - Of all the chores that reduce spider activity, vacuuming is tops! The vacuum sucks up the spider eggs, their dust, along with the dangerous adult female black widow herself. Keeping things clutter-free around the house to reduce hiding places for her to live is recommended as well. ***(Be very careful when emptying or throwing out the full vacuum bags. She may have been sucked-up, but she may also still be alive, and this feisty black spider will be looking for something to fight!)***
Black Widow Conclusion
No matter if you are afraid of spiders or not, getting rid of the black widows around your home should be high on your honey-do list. Even as only about 5% (3 to 5 annually) of those bitten by a black widow will die from the toxic bite, many more are sure to get very sick. Members of the black widow family can be found worldwide, and actually account for most all of the fatal spider bites encountered. The female widow spider is built to kill, so much so that, even her web was used in the twentieth century to make the crosshairs in the scope's of sniper rifles. With such a deadly resume, you can be sure that exterminating black widow spiders from your home is a very good thing!
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