Black Widow Spiders
Black widow spiders are venomous spiders, but despite their reputation, they are not typically deadly. They only inject a small amount of venom, which is not typically enough to kill an adult, but each bite should be treated immediately. They aren't violent, preferring to escape instead of bite. They are territorial, however, and will bite when guarding their egg sacs or if cornered.
The black widow spider's name comes from the females' post-mating behavior, where she'll eat the male spider, "widowing" herself. The female is easily recognizable, with a red hourglass marking the abdomen of her black body. The males are harmless and look nothing like the females, about half the female's size and usually have yellow and red bands with spots on their backs.
Black widow spiders stay out of contact with humans, animals and any other disturbances. Their webs are usually built near the ground, normally in trash, rubble piles, under or around houses and outdoor buildings such as sheds and garages. Cold weather and drought may drive these spiders into buildings. The female black widow spider rarely leaves her web. A telltale sign of a black widow's web is an irregular, tangled, crisscrossed mess of coarse silk. This same web may be rebuilt or changed on an ongoing basis, depending upon her needs. You'll find her hanging upside down in her web, waiting for prey. The female captures her victims with her silk, wrapping it around the prey, then killing it with her venom. Depending on the needs of the female and her young, the prey might be eaten immediately or saved.
If bitten by a black widow spider:
- You may not always feel the bite at first.
- The first sign of a bite is small, local swelling.
- There may be two small red spots in the center of the swelling.
- Clean the site of the bite with soap and water.
- Apply a cool compress over the bite and keep the affected limb elevated to heart level.
- Treatment in a medical facility may be necessary for children under five years old or for adults with severe symptoms.
- After three hours, the site of the bite becomes more painful.
- Common reactions include an overall ache of the body, in particular, the legs.
- Other symptoms include alternating salivation and dry-mouth, paralysis of the diaphragm, profuse sweating and swollen eyelids.
- In severe cases, a headache, elevated blood pressure, nausea and perspiration could occur.
- The poison injected by the black widow can cause abdominal pain similar to appendicitis as well as pain to muscles or the soles of the feet.
- In most cases, symptoms disappear in two or three days.
- Calcium gluconate is used intravenously to relieve muscle spasms produced by black widow venom.
- The victim of a black widow bite should go to the doctor immediately for treatment.
If you think that your home or business may be housing a black widow spider web, contact Pest EZ East immediately!