Steve Tvedten's "The Bug Stops Here"
Black Widow Spiders
A mature female black widow spider has a large, black, shiny body and measures approximately 3/8 inch long, with 1inch legs. An hourglass shape in bright red or orange-red color can be found on the abdomen. Black widow spider webs are very irregular, not in lively concentric rings; they are white and very strong. They are most often found in areas where water and insects are readily available. Around the home they can be found under or in outdoor furniture, barbecue grills, pool pumps and in storage areas, garages, wood piles, block fences and the corners of porches and patios.
The black widow is shy. She hides near the web by day and is most active at night where she waits in her web for prey to enter. She produces hundreds of babies hatched from egg sacs that look like little moth balls. The young black widows are white in color and spread quickly after hatching. The male black widow is much smaller and is brown and white in color. Because of its size, its bite cannot pierce skin and is, therefore, not dangerous to humans.
Black Widow Spider Control
A "live and let live" attitude is the best approach for living in harmony with all nature. But if you have a problem of close contact with the black widow or you have young children who play outside, you may have to take steps to control the black widow population around your house. To control the black widow populations, locate the black widow spider, using a flashlight at night to find her in her web; then vacuum her and her web and her eggs up and safely dispose of the bag.
Signs and Symptoms of a Black Widow Spider Bite
The initial bite may feel like a tiny prick and may go unnoticed. At first, there may be little or no visible signs of the bite such as swelling. A red circular mark may appear about 6 hours after the bite. The symptoms may progress to aching sensations, muscle pain at the bite site spreading to the lower back, thighs and limbs. A black widow spider bite can cause intense abdominal pain that can be confused with appendicitis. Symptoms can last 36 hours and lingering effects may last for several weeks.
Keep the bite site lower than the level of the victim's heart and clean the wound/bite site with alcohol or a moist aspirin or soap and water. Then apply ice or cold packs to the bitten area to slow the circulation of the venom. Remove rings or constricting items since the bitten area may swell. Never cut or suction a spider bite. Keep the victim quiet and watch for signs of shock. Call your medical provider immediately to determine whether the bite victim can be managed at home or will require treatment by a physician or hospitalization. Several cases may require antivenin treatment.