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Black Widow Spider

(Latrodectus mactans)

Appearance

The southern black widow spider is shiny black and the female usually has a red spot or hourglass shaped mark on the underside of the abdomen.

Size

The body is about 3/4-inch long and the abdomen is about 3/8-inch in diameter.

Behavior

Black widow spiders are often feared because of their painful bite. Children and the elderly are most as risk from complications due to a bite. However, such bites are rarely fatal.

Black widows are actually timid and solitary. The only social life they exhibit is when they mate. They are cannibalistic and nocturnal. During the daylight hours, this spider spends its time in the silken tunnel of its web. The female will hang upside down displaying the red hourglass as a visible warning signal. They feed on insects and arthropods, and have an average lifespan of one year.

Habitat

Black widow spiders are common around wood piles, and are frequently encountered when homeowners carry firewood into the home. they can also be found under eaves, in boxes, outdoor toilets, meter boxes, and other secluded areas. This widow spider is essentially a southern species, but ranges as for north as Massachusetts. It prefers dark sheltered spots close to the ground, but will spread web snares over plants.

Interesting Facts

Black widow spider venom is neurotoxic, and will block the transmission of nervous impulses. A bitten human suffers from a painful rigidity in the abdominal wall muscles; and while the bite may be serious, it is rarely fatal. The bite can be distinguished by the characteristic double puncture marks.

Control

Do you live in South Florida and think that this spider may be invading your home? Hulett Environmental Services offers specialty pest control treatments designed to control and eliminate this pest!

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