Black Widow Spiders

Black widows are found throughout the U.S. but are most numerous in the South.

What Are Black Widow Spiders?

Black widow spiders are regarded as the most venomous spider in North America. Several different species of black widow can be found throughout the U.S., but they are most numerous in the South.

The males and females look different, but the females are the most recognizable. Females are about 1.5 inches long and shiny black with the tell-tale red hourglass marking on their abdomens. Males are about half the size of a female (0.5-0.75 inch long) and lighter in color with red or pink spots on their backs.

The Black Widow's Habitat

Black widows are solitary spiders and prefer dark, secluded areas like crevices, woodpiles, garages, dark corners, basements, closets, and cluttered areas. They spin messy, irregular webs that are usually located near ground level and under a protected overhang such as under lawn furniture or wood piles. They will eat flies, mosquitoes, grasshoppers, beetles, and caterpillars that become trapped in their webs.

The Black Widow's Bite

Most black widows will only bite when disturbed. However, since they build their webs close to the ground, they can easily come into contact with people and pets. While male black widow spiders can bite, it's almost always the female who is responsible. Despite their small size, black widows pack a poisonous punch and their bites should be taken seriously. People bitten by a black widow can experience pain at the bite site, fever, nausea, and increased blood pressure. While bites are not usually fatal, anyone who has been bitten (especially a small child or elderly individual) should seek professional medical care immediately.

How to Kill Black Widow Spiders

To keep black widow spiders out of your home, create a barrier by applying Ortho® Home Defense® Insect Killer for Indoor & Perimeter2 with Comfort Wand®around the perimeter of your home, windows, doors, and along baseboards. Kill any black widow spiders that have gained entry to your home with Ortho® Home Defense® Ant, Roach & Spider Killer2. To kill black widow spiders that have taken up residence in your yard, use Ortho® Home Defense® Insect Killer for Lawn & Landscape Ready-to-Spray.

Prevent Black Widow Spider Problems

To prevent black widow spiders from moving into your yard and home, take preventative measures. Remove material, such as firewood piles where they might hide and always check firewood for hitchhikers before bringing it into the house. Eliminate clutter in storage areas, such as basements, attics, and closets. Keep plants and grass trimmed near your house and remove clutter and debris from around your house's perimeter. Fix cracks in your home's foundation, seal openings, and install screens and door sweeps to help prevent spider entry.