Black Widow Spiders: Fact or Fiction

Black Widow spiders are common in temperate and tropical regions. They are found in forty-eight states within the United States, including Florida. They live in a variety of habitats, including wooded areas, grassy areas, and desserts. In homes, they tend to keep to themselves and stay out of sight.

There are five different species of spiders that are known as a Black Widow. All of them are similar-looking, venomous black spiders. Generally speaking, Black Widows are not aggressive and will avoid people if at all possible. Most bites occur when a person accidentally invades the spider’s space, often without prior knowledge.

Are Black Widow Spiders Deadly?

The venom in a Black Widow spider is fifteen times more deadly than a rattlesnake bite. However, due to their small size, they don’t deliver much venom in a single bite. And most males and adolescents are unable to puncture human skin, which nullifies their threat.

While it is possible to die from a black widow bite, it is very uncommon and is more likely to occur in a small child or an elderly person with underlying health issues. For perspective, there are around 2,000 black widow bites reported in the U.S. annually. Of those, typically, around fifteen have severe symptoms.

Do Black Widows Eat Their Mates?

The first thing that you probably recall about Black Widow spiders is that they are synonymous with mate cannibalism. While this does occur sometimes, mate cannibalism is not an overarching trait. It is not that common in the types of Black Widow spiders found in the northern hemisphere.

There are several different species of spiders that are collectively referred to as Black Widows. Mate cannibalism occurs in some, but not all species. It is more common with species found in the southern hemisphere and may occur more frequently in laboratory settings where the male cannot escape after mating.

Are Black Widows Aggressive?

With the reputation that precedes them and the potential lethality of their venom, most people assume that Black Widow spiders are inherently dangerous and aggressive creatures. This is false. Aggression towards humans is exceedingly rare. In fact, black widows will try many defensive behaviors before resorting to a bite.

Most spiders tend to be completely non-confrontational when presented with a minor threat. Most will simply move away. As the threat escalates, they may attempt to throw silk or play dead. Bites only tend to occur when spiders are pinched or aggressively threatened.

Do Black Widows Infest Homes?

Black Widow spiders are generally the keep-to-themselves type. They prefer dark, moist, secluded areas. With that being said, many houses or yards do present some good opportunities for these spiders to make themselves at home.

If you notice a clustering of messy webs located near ground level or paper-like egg sacs in doorways, an infestation is possible. It is a good idea to seek help from our professional exterminators. While these spiders will do their best to stay out of your way, no one wants to share their home with an infestation of venomous spiders.

The Takeaway

Black Widow spiders include several different species of venomous spiders. Their behaviors tend to vary from one species to another. Generally speaking, spiders are docile creatures who are not inherently aggressive.

While their bite may be venomous, these spiders seem to be able to control whether to inject venom at all or even regulate the amount of venom that is injected. Pair this with their comparatively small size to a human, and their bites tend to be little more than a mild inconvenience. Of course, to eliminate such worries entirely, you can consult with a pest control specialist like Impact Pest Elimination for expert advice.