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black widow

Q: Is it typical to find Black Widow spiders in this area?

Q: Is it typical to find Black Widow spiders in this area?  We found one (male) outside our back door (it’s dead and still there) and I am not a happy camper.  I wondered if the spiders might have been in the plants I transplanted outside. I’m a little nervous about this and would appreciate it if you can let me know or direct me to someone who might know.

A:They are common in this area. In fact, they are found all over the US, especially in the south.Male black widows don’t bite so they are no threat to you.  The females will bite if threatened. This species may hide in sheltered, dimly lit places such as barns, garages, basements, outdoor toilets, hollow stumps, rodent holes, trash, brush, and dense vegetation, so it is possible they were in the plants. Black widows usually seek dry, sheltered sites such as buildings during periods of cold weather.

Always wear gloves when digging in the dirt as other spiders are lurking about too.  I use the kind of gloves that fit snuggly at the wrist to prevent some unwanted pest crawling down the cuff.  Sweep away any spider egg sacks you see around your home (outside doorways, etc.).Nurseries and garden centers carry insect sprays which will kill the adult spider on contact (but you must see them then spray immediately).  Don’t spray every spider you see, they are great hunters and kill many unwanted insects too.

There is no reason for you to live in fear of any spider, even the black widow.  The black widow is shy and does not like bright clean places.  Keep your garage, tool shed and garden areas clean and you should have few problems. If you are bitten the area will be swollen and you may see 2 red puncture marks, which could be the sign of several other insects too.  Be sure to visit a doctor soon after you discover the bite. He or she will be able to determine the best method of treatment.