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Fall brings yellows and reds, pumpkin spice, crisp wind, and cool nights. Fall also often brings inside one of the most notorious species of spiders — black widows. The name alone makes many people shudder with fear, and in fall, when these spiders begin to look for a place to spend the winter, they are more likely to come into contact with humans. Their bites – at least that of the female of the species – can cause severe pain and on some occasions can be deadly. 

Beware of the black widow! Recognize them and handle a sighting properly. We’re here to help you do both! Insectek’s pest control specialists have used their knowledge and years of experience to put together the following guide to black widows.

How to Identify Black Widows

Male black widow spiders are rarely dangerous and, with what is often a gray or brown body color, they’re fairly ordinary in their appearance. However, female black widows have a distinct look. Their shiny, black bodies have a red hourglass-shaped marking on the underside of their abdomens, and they’re typically about 1.5 inches long or about the size of a small paper clip.

Read More: The Homeowners Complete Pest Control Guide

Where They Live

In the U.S., black widows are typically found in the West and South. They often build their messy and unorganized webs in dark, dry shelters, such as basements, barns, and garages. You may also find them close to the ground, underwater meter covers, dog houses, or outdoor furniture. 

Black Widow in Web

Their Venom 

Some experts estimate that a female black widow’s venom is 15 times more potent than that of a rattlesnake. The good news is that these spiders are rarely aggressive, usually only biting when they feel threatened. However, bites can produce symptoms that include muscle aches, nausea, and a paralysis of the diaphragm that can make breathing difficult. While bites are rarely fatal, it’s best to get medical treatment immediately for someone suspected of being bitten. 

Killing and Preventing Black Widows From Coming Back

So you’ve identified the spider in your home as a black widow. What is the next step to take? First, you have to kill it. A safe way to do that is by using a pesticide like Shockwave 1 by MGK. It should kill black widows almost instantly. But be sure to follow label directions when using such sprays. 

Next, take the following steps to protect yourself and prevent more spiders from making a home in or near your home:

  • Eliminate clutter, and dust and vacuum frequently.
  • Before handling, always check items that have been stored in a shed or garage, or outside, for spiders, egg sacs, or webs.
  • Keep the outside perimeter of your house or other structure free from tall grass, weeds, or shrubs, especially near the foundation. Also, trim tree branches that hang over the roof of any structure on your property. 
  • Seal any cracks and openings in your home. Tips from our Scorpion Home Seal Guide can be used to keep spiders out, too.

Call Insectek for Help

Keeping spiders out of your home can be tricky. If your efforts to prevent them are unsuccessful, it’s time to reach out for professional help. Insectek will inspect your home, come up with a plan, and provide the appropriate treatment. Black widows can be dangerous, and we want you and your family to be as safe as possible. Learn more about our trusted spider control solutions.