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black widow spider in web

Black Widow Spiders

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What do black widow spiders look like?

  • Size: 1 1/2-inches long 
  • Color: Female adults are black and shiny with a red hourglass marking on the abdomen; male adults are lighter black or gray in color and feature red and white streaks on the abdomen.
  • Body Structure: Females feature rounded, globe-like abdomens; males feature smaller abdomens, yet have noticeably larger biting appendages, or pedipalps, than females.
a single black widow spider outside

Characteristics of black widow spiders

After mating, females may consume the male as nourishment needed to fertilize her eggs. Eggs are laid in silken, cup-like sacs and are vehemently protected by the female during the gestation period, which can last from 10 days to 1 month. Females can create anywhere from 5 to more than a dozen sacs, each containing up to 750 eggs. Upon hatching, the young spiders are cannibalistic, killing and eating other hatchlings to survive. Only a small number of the young spiders survive and develop into adults. The transformation into adulthood takes 2-3 months. The average lifespan of a black widow spider is 1 year.

When are black widow spiders most active?

Very Active
Not Active

How are black widow spider webs formed?

Black widow spider webs build irregular webs made from strong threads. Although they appear a tangled mess, black widow spiders do this intentionally. 

Where do black widow spiders build webs?

Outdoors, black widow spiders build webs in woodpiles, under patio furniture, protected ledges, and inside cracks and small holes as well as in sheds.

Indoors, black widow spider webs are typically found at or near ground level in basements, crawl spaces, garages, and in dark areas not often disturbed.

What do black widow spiders eat?

Black widow spiders eat insects and other spiders captured in their webs. 

Are black widow spiders dangerous?

Although the initial bite from a black widow may not cause much discomfort for a human victim, the powerful venom can begin affecting the central nervous system immediately with pain rapidly spreading throughout the body.

Vomiting, chills, difficulty breathing, extreme perspiration, palpitations, and delirium are a few of the symptoms that may arise within hours of the bite.

Most bite victims recover within a week; however, there is a 5% mortality rate associated with black widow bites with most fatalities being children and the elderly.

Why do I have a black widow spider infestation?

Black widow spiders make their way indoors through cracks, gaps, and openings on the exterior of the structure and once inside may stay if there are insects to feed on. 

Sometimes black widow spiders are introduced in boxes, bags, and other items. 

How do I get rid of black widow spiders?

If you're concerned that black widows have infested your home, reach out to a licensed pest control for proper identification and treatment. Using foggers or store-bought chemicals to control black widow spiders is not recommended. Apart from being ineffective, the toxins in these products may harm the health of people and pets if administered incorrectly. 

At Miller Pest & Termite, we offer pest control services for black widow spiders and other insects that infest Midwest homes. Contact us today to learn more about our spider control services.

How can I prevent a black widow spider problem?

To prevent an infestation of black widow spiders in or around your home, we recommend:

  • Moving debris (i.e. stacks of brick and clutter) away from the house
  • Relocate woodpiles so that they are several feet away from the structure and off the ground
  • Seal cracks in the foundation, around doors and windows, and other openings on the exterior of the home
  • Eliminate insect populations active in your home


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miller pest & termite customers
Dean King came to our house and did an awesome job. He was very knowledgeable and thorough in all of his inspection and treatment. Service was prompt and very professional.
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