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Black Widow

Size: 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches long

Color: Shiny black with red abdomen

Where found: Dark corners, cabinets, garages, woodpiles

Potential treatment: Interior and exterior

The story of the Black Widow Spider indicates that the female, upon mating, kills and consumes the male, hence, its name. The fact is, while such behavior has been observed in captivity, it is not nearly as common in the wild.

These well-known spiders are distinctive by they shiny black bodies and red hourglass shape on their abdomens. The males tend to be smaller than the females, and they have red or orange stripes on their abdomens.

Black Widow spiders are generally anti-social except during mating. They tend to hide in dark, protected spaces, where they will spin a web and hang upside down from it. Males will approach to mate and the female hangs a cocoon containing hundreds of eggs. The webs also are used to catch prey, including ants, flies, beetles and grasshoppers.

These spiders, while feared in the northeast, are far more common in the south. The northern Black Widows rarely seek shelter indoors, although they find their way inside on fire wood, as woodpiles are a favored place to hide and nest. Keeping yard debris and clutter cleared and organized helps with prevention.

Bites are not common, but female Black Widows will attack humans when provoked. Their venom is highly toxic and affects the nervous system. A bite is rarely fatal if appropriate medical treatment is received in a timely manner. Serious symptoms include fever, sweating and nausea.