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Black Widow Spiders

( Latrodectus mactans )

Characteristics

SIZE: Adult widows are between one-eighth of an inch to 1.5 inches in length, depending on their gender and species.

COLOR: The color of widow spiders varies. Most are black with bright red markings, although some are brown with bright orange markings.

BEHAVIOR: Many people have learned to fear the sight of a black widow spider. It is one of the three most dangerous spiders in the United States. Although its bite is rarely fatal, it can be a long and painful experience if you are bitten. Most black widow females have a prominent red or orange hourglass marking on their back that can be used to help identify their type. This mark develops once females reach maturity.

Like other spiders, black widows only have two body regions, a head and a cephalothorax. Their front and back pairs of legs are long and slender and point forward and backward. They also have two middle pairs of legs that point away from their body. Black widow spiders build webs that appear to be disorderly. When trying to identify if you have a black widow spider in your home, look for messy webs that appear to have no order or structure.

Habitats

The black widow is found in almost every state across the country, with the exception of Alaska. Indoors these spiders avoid high traffic areas, building webs in secluded areas of the home where they are likely to go undisturbed.

Tips for Control

One of the most helpful ways to prevent spiders from inhabiting your home is to reduce clutter. To do this, you should:

  • Organize items that are not used on a regular basis in storage bins or airtight bags. Stacks of papers or clothes that go untouched for many months provide ideal hiding places for spiders to thrive in.

  • Eliminate cracks and gaps on the outside of your home to prevent spiders from entering the home.

  • Certain treatments to eliminate spiders can be applied, but it is best to consult a pest management professional on the most effective options available.

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