Black Widows

Up close image of a black widow. Interstate Pest Management serving Portland OR & Vancouver WA talks about black widows.

Wife shrieks, daughter jumps, startled, and I reel back, gasping. We were crowded around the sprinkler box in the front yard, trying to diagnose some issue with our decades-old sprinkler system. I pulled off the lid only to find that dreaded, tingle-inducing little monster—the black widow. Sleek, jet-black except for the infamous red hourglass on its abdomen, and with those long legs, you can imagine it being the sexy femme fatale of the arachnid family.

It’s a spider with a lot of fear and stigma swirling around it. Let’s take a look at the facts:

The Good News

  • Obviously, they are just as scared of you as you are of them. Without the fangs, this little spider wouldn’t stand a chance against a two-year-old in a fair fight. I’ve run into them in my garage a few times and the rush of adrenaline plus the tip of my shoe provided adequate weaponry.
  • Their poison isn’t usually deadly. In fact, most of the time a black widow spider bites a human, their fangs don’t even break the skin. Between bites from the black widow and the brown recluse, only around six or seven people die in the U.S. per year. And these are usually young children or the elderly who don’t seek immediate medical attention. What am I saying? That sounds like bad news to me.

The Bad News

  • Black widows prefer to stay incognito. They tend to take up residence in the dark corners of your garage, basement or crawlspace. Or, in my case, the sprinkler box. It’s dark, moist and only inhabited by other creepy-crawlies that provide for the black widow’s food source. (They don’t eat their mates, contrary to popular belief.) The point: they could be in your house right now and you wouldn’t know it.
  • If a black widow does bite you, yeah, you’re probably not going to die, but you’re in for a bad few days. They release a neurotoxin that results in severe muscle cramps, abdominal pain, dizziness, fainting, nausea, vomiting and elevated blood pressure. You’re not going to make it into work that week. Luckily, most employers probably won’t question the old “I got bitten by a black widow” excuse.
  • Black widows are especially tough. A bug bomb, for example, while effective against smaller “house spiders,” probably won’t get rid of your black widow problem.

What You Can Do

  • Keep your garage and basement organized, clean and as dry as possible. They want secluded, out-of-the-way places. If you don’t have any of those, they’re going to look for a more suitable habitat.
  • Keep quarterly inspections with a pest control service as well as regular treatments on your house. Not only will this control any black widow issues you might have, it will help eliminate other insects, reducing the black widow’s food supply and causing them to move on to greener pastures.

Don’t live in fear in your own home. Take the garage back from those eight-legged invaders. Call Interstate Pest Management, Inc. for a free quote and fast action: 1-877-619-4117. You won’t be disappointed.