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Venomous Spiders of the Carolinas: The Black Widow


While nearly all spiders are capable of venomous bites, there are two main spiders of top concern in the Carolina’s: The Black Widow and the Brown Recluse. Let’s take a closer look at the infamous Black Widow spider.

Black Widow Spider Facts

The “widow” family of spiders actually includes 31 different species and not all of them are black. Some widow spiders are brown but most can be identified by the red hourglass or similar red marking on their abdomen. The Black Widow, in particular, is common in South Carolina. The females are the Black Widows to worry about in terms of venom as males typically don’t have long enough mouth parts to inject venom when they bite. The venom of the Black Widow is 10-15 times more potent and deadly than that of the rattlesnake. Another interesting fact is that their webs are as strong as steel.

Avoiding Black Widow Spiders

The key to avoiding Black Widows is to avoid giving them desirable places to hide out. They particularly like clutter and cardboard boxes and are known for taking up residence in attics and basements. Black Widows also like to hang around in wood piles, outdoor buildings such as sheds and mailboxes. Yes, mailboxes. If you notice spider webs on or around your mailbox, definitely use caution and inspect your mailbox while wearing long sleeves and protective gloves. Here are a few more ways to avoid attracting Black Widows, especially if you might have sighted one:

  • Keep floors, closets and other dark spaces clean and clutter-free.
  • Remove bed skirts, wash on hot cycle and store in tightly sealed plastic containers
  • Declutter and declutter some more.
  • Don’t store things in cardboard boxes.
  • Store shoes in plastic containers with lids when you aren’t wearing them.
  • Don’t leave clothing on the floor and don’t pick up and put on clothing that has been on the floor.
  • If spider webs are in or near windows, remove curtains and wash on hot water cycle on a regular basis.
  • Keep bed away from the wall.

Black Widow Spider Bites and Sightings

If you believe you have been bitten by a Black Widow, seek emergency treatment immediately. Black Widow venom is a neurotoxin and can make you very sick. While most Black Widow bites are not fatal, they can be for the young, old and those with compromised immune systems. Symptoms of a Black Widow bite include nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, muscle pain and numbness around the site of the bite wound. If you can safely trap the spider in a sealed container such as a baby food jar to take with you to the hospital, do so.

If you believe you have seen a Black Widow in your house, you can buy box spider traps and put them out in dark spots in your home for a couple of days. If you have a spider problem in or near your home, call The Pest Force immediately!  DIY options, such as pennyroyal oil, can be just as dangerous for you, your children and your pets. When Black Widows are around in numbers, you need help from the professionals.