Here at A Five Star Termite and Pest Control we help our clients with many different kinds of insects, spiders, and rodents that are commonly found in the Greater San Antonio, Texas area. We are frequently asked what types of spiders are found most often. In the spider genre, brown recluses, black widows, and wolf spiders are the three that we see regularly. Today we will be discussing the black widow spider so that in case you encounter one you will recognize it and know what to do.
Black Widow Spider Identification
The scientific name for the black widow is Latrodectus. There are 31 different species of the Latrodectus spiders in the world. The North American black widow is the one that we find here in the United States. Each species of widow spiders varies in size. The female widow spiders are dark-colored and typically have reddish markings on their abdomens. Many female widows’ abdomens are hourglass-shaped. The black widow ranges in size from 1 ½ to 1 3/8 inches long.
What Do Black Widows Eat & Drink?
Black widows spin irregular webs during the night. Once the webs are made the females hang upside down and suspend a cocoon with hundreds of eggs in it. Once the spiderlings are born they leave the web. Their webs are also used to capture their prey. Their diet consists of flies, mosquitoes, grasshoppers, beetles, and caterpillars. Once their prey has been captured they use the bristles on their hind legs that they use to cover their prey with silk. Once their prey has been covered with silk, the black widow punctures their prey with their fangs and sends digestive enzymes to their corpses. Their prey’s body then becomes liquefied and they suck up the fluid.
Black widows produce venom when they bite. Their venom is reported to be 15 times stronger than the venom in a rattlesnake.
Black Widow Bites
When humans are bitten by a black widow they may experience muscle aches, nausea, sweating, weakness, and paralysis of their diaphragm that can make breathing difficult. Most people have heard that black widow bites cause serious damage or death but those are not typically results. Occasionally fatalities will occur from a black widow bite, but not very often. Fortunately black widows are not aggressive spiders. They bite humans in self-defense. Female black widows are very protective of their eggs and if humans come near their webs that are filled with eggs they are likely to bite. If you are bitten by a black widow wash the bite well with soap and water. Put an ice pack on the bite and try to keep it elevated so that the venom does not spread. Doctors will treat black widow bites with medications to help relax your muscles and reduce the pain. Small children, elderly, or those with underlying health problems may be given an antivenin, a medication that fights the venom in the spider’s bite.
Black Widow Habitats
Black widows like to live in protected areas. They are commonly found under stones; in firewood piles; in barns, outhouses; and in cluttered areas like garages, basements, and crawl spaces. If you are moving items that have been stored for a long period of time it is safest to wear heavy gloves. If you store wood on your property, it is best to be stored twenty feet or more away from your home and give inches off the ground.
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If you see black widows on your property you will want to do everything possible to get rid of them as quickly as you can. The best way to get rid of these venomous spiders is to use a professional. A Five Star Termite and Pest Control can help you get rid of your black widows. Give us a call today!