An educational guide to help you get rid of unwanted Black Widow Spiders.
How To Get Rid Of Black Widows
As much as you may not like spiders, they help us greatly by controlling the insect population, keeping away those that you consider a nuisance. While this means having spiders around is generally good (in moderation), black widows are a different story. These spiders are venomous and their bites can be incredibly painful and sometimes deadly. As such, take action to get rid of them as soon as you see any signs of black widows by your home.
How Do You Know It’s A Black Widow?
With so many spiders in the country, you may not be able to identify a black widow at first. Females tend to be easier to recognize and they are the most dangerous. Female black widows are coal black with a red mark in the shape of an hourglass on their belly and a spherical abdomen. They are typically about 1.5 inches when their legs are extended with their body only measuring half an inch. The male black widow is about half this size and gray or brown with red dots on the abdomen and a possible red or yellow band on their back. The males aren’t venomous, so that is one less thing to worry about. When they hatch, black widows are yellow-white or white and get darker as they grow; they are also harmless.
While the venom of black widows is a strong neurotoxin, these spiders will typically only bite in self-defense. You are more likely to be bitten if you accidentally injure or disturb the spider. If you are bitten, seek medical attention right away. Waiting too long for treatment may lead to death.
Know Where They Are Probably Hiding
After you have identified a black widow, the first step to getting rid of it is finding where the group of spiders is living. Black widows are reclusive and somewhat timid, typically staying in dark areas that are protected, like in firewood or boxes or under ledges. You will typically find the web within a foot or so of the ground.
Because black widows are nocturnal, they will be hiding during the day, but their webs will be visible. This makes daytime the perfect chance to find their webs so you know where to find the spiders when night falls. Their webs tend to appear erratic and funnel-shaped.
Kill Them Individually
When you see a black widow, go ahead and kill it right away. You can use your vacuum cleaner to suck it up, which should kill it instantly so you have nothing to worry about when emptying the bag. Or you can squash it with your shoe or another handy object. Don’t forget to vacuum up the egg sacs as well, which should be attached to the web. Don’t crush the sacs as accidentally breaking them open will sound all the baby spiders out into your home, creating a serious problem.
Use Liquid Spot Treatments And Dust Applications
Insecticides are available in liquid and dust forms and can then be applied to the web and any areas around them. The insecticides should kill the spiders that are currently living there and stop new ones from coming.
Using a dust insecticide is a better choice in areas people don’t go frequently, such as the crawl space, basement, or attic. In most cases, a liquid spot treatment will be sold as a powder that you mix with water. You can then spray it wherever the webs are, including under the bed, behind furniture, and in corners. Be sure to check the webs for egg sacs as well and spray these thoroughly. They should be whitish gray and made using the same silk as the rest of the web.
Just remember that insecticides will not definitively kill all of the spiders on your property. You will have to combine their use with other methods to effectively get rid of the spiders and prevent new ones. You should also always take care when using an insecticide due to the harsh chemicals, particularly if you have pets or small children.
Don’t Hesitate To Hire A Professional
While it is sometimes possible to get rid of black widows by yourself, it is typically a better choice to call a professional exterminator, especially because of the risk of being bitten. Calling a pro is even more important if you have elderly people, young children, or pets as these groups have a higher risk of a poor reaction to a bite. Just make sure to let the exterminator know that you are dealing with black widows, not regular spiders.
Prevent Future Black Widows
After you have cleared your home of black widow spiders, take the time to make sure that none will have the chance to come take their place. A good step towards this goal is regularly cleaning your home, including using the vacuum in all nooks and crannies. Consider washing the exterior of the building using a power hose to get rid of any spiders by door frames or under window ledges.
We are the Pest Education Network, a non-profit organization that focuses on wildlife and pest removal education. Our approach utilizes Integrated Pest Management, a strategy advocating prevention and humane methods.