Identifying Black Widows and Preventing Infestations

Black Widow House Spider

The black widow is a spider belonging to the genus Latrodectus. In popular culture, she is somewhat of an icon. A female black widow, with her shiny black body, and two triangles forming a bright red hourglass on her back, presents a striking image that almost screams: “venomous spider: stay back!” (males are much smaller, less colorful, and non-venomous). The black widow derives its name from the occasional practice of female spiders devouring their mates after procreation, though this does not happen particularly often. Female black widow spiders are both unusually venomous towards large vertebrates, though their bites are rarely fatal, and incredibly common across North America, finding homes for themselves in nearly all of the contiguous states. Knowing how to identify an infestation, and then deal with that infestation, is key to protecting your home from these unwelcome guests.

How Can You Identify a Black Widow Infestation?

There are a few telltale signs of the presence of black widows in your home. First, you must learn to identify the spiders themselves. Like all arachnids, black widows have 8 legs and 8 tiny eyes. They are between roughly 3 to 10 millimeters (or 0.12 to 0.39 inches) long, though female spiders are almost always larger than males. Female black widows can grow to about 1.5 inches including their leg span. Young black widows have similar coloration and markings as adults, but the intensity of those colors and markings increases as they mature into adulthood.

Even if you don’t come face to face with a black widow, there are methods you can use, and certain signs to look for to determine if they’re present. Black widows, like all other spiders, spin webs. Black widow webs lack the uniform symmetry that we sometimes associate with spider webs, and tend to be more irregular, appearing less carefully constructed. Their webs are often located on or around the ground floor of a home and span roughly 1 foot in diameter. They use their webs to capture arthropods like ants, beetles, and other common insects. Another way you can diagnose a black widow infestation is by finding silken egg sacs in a doorway. 

Should You Get Rid of Black Widow Spiders if They’re in Your Home?

If you notice black widow spiders or any signs of their presence in your home, you’ll want to act. Black widows are the most venomous spiders in North America. Bites can be extremely painful, causing a whole host of symptoms including headache, anxiety, muscle cramps, numbness, nausea, light sensitivity, and heavy sweating. These conditions, brought on by black widow envenomation, are referred to as latrodectism. Black widow bites are very rarely deadly, though being bitten by a black widow will certainly not be a pleasant experience. That’s why you should make sure to prevent black widows from entering your home, and if you find yourself with an infestation, seek professional assistance.

Preventing a Black Widow Infestation

The best method of saving yourself the trouble of having to deal with an infestation is preventing the infestation in the first place. Black widows spin their webs in dark and dry locales. Outdoors, you’ll find them underneath stones and decks, or woodpiles and dead trees, though they often prefer manmade structures. These spiders love to squat in places like barns, sheds, and outhouses, but they might also find their way into your home. Look out for them in places like garages, crawl spaces, and basements, or really any other dark, dry room.

You can minimize your risk of infestation by eliminating any clutter in your rooms that might be hospitable to black widows, thereby removing potential nesting places. Make sure to be careful when completing this process, and wear necessary safety gear such as gloves or even goggles. Be especially cautious if spider webs are visible. In addition to clearing up clutter, you should store your firewood away from your house, rather than stacked up against a wall. Doing so will discourage black widows or other pests from making their homes immediately adjacent to yours.

While prevention is great, if you have an active infestation, you should contact the extermination specialists at Termiguard, and we can get your spider problem sorted, fast.

Professional Extermination Methods for Black Widow Infestations

There are some short-term solutions to eliminating a black widow infestation from your home, that you can complete yourself, but the only surefire method of dealing with an infestation is calling a professional. Using strongly scented liquids, for instance, like vinegar, lemon, eucalyptus, or various essential oils, will deter black widows from wherever you put them because they smell through their feet. You can physically remove their webs as well, using a vacuum, but chances are they’ll simply make another one.

A Termiguard spider exterminator knows exactly how to make your infestation a thing of the past, and how to make sure it stays that way. Our professionals may use a combination of insecticides, pesticides, and insect traps, depending on the scale and intensity of the problem. Chemical insecticides, both dust, and liquid forms can serve as a great help when attempting to clear your house of black widow. Dusts are great for areas that go untouched by the human residents of your home, like basements and crawl spaces. Liquids are better fit to deal with areas of known spider activity such as the web itself. These insecticides will kill any spiders currently living there, and deter new ones. 

An exterminator will use pesticides for attacking egg sacs. Pesticides like pyrethrin, when used to pain an egg sac, will prevent the eggs from hatching, kill nearby spiders, and prevent new spiders from moving in.

Finally, insect traps attack the problem indirectly. By deploying these traps, you can capture flies and other common insects that make up much of a black widow’s diet. Without a source of food, black widows will be forced to move elsewhere, and are unlikely to build new nests.

Call TermiGuard today for a free consultation, and let us help you jumpstart your pest-free life.