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Black Widow Spider


The black widow received its name, because the female black widow is known for killing and feeding on its mate after insemination. Female black widow spiders are easily identifiable by the red hourglass marking on their backs. These spiders are nocturnal and make their webs in dark, hidden areas. Only the female spider has a poisonous bite, but it is not deadly to humans. Because the symptoms are similar to other conditions, seeking medical attention is the best course of action if you suspect you have been bitten by a black widow. It is also the safest course of action to call professionals, like those at Nashville Pest Control, to get rid of a black widow spider for you.

Appearance and Life-cycle:

Black widows are known for the red hourglass on their back, but females are the only ones with that trademark. Females can also live up to 3 years. The males have white spots on their sides instead and have orange and brown markings on their joints. Males only live a year. Both males and females have a comb foot, which is a row of strong, curved bristles on the hind legs. The comb foot is used to pitch the silk over captured prey. They are about 3/4th to 3/8 of an inch long. They are shy and solitary.

Black widows mate in the spring and early summer and can create several eggs sacs during that time. The sacs are tightly woven, silken cups that are pear shaped. They can be white, tan, or grey with a texture similar to paper. They are only 12-15mm in diameter. Each sac can contain hundreds of eggs, but only a limited number survive. They are cannibalistic in the early stages. These sacs can be found in dark crevices beneath stones and natural debris.

Habitat and Behavior:

Black widow spiders are incredibly common in southern states, because of the warmer weather.
They live in dark, secluded areas. These places can be in cellars and in piles of wood or trash. Inside the home, they might hide in garages, dark corners, basements, closets, and cluttered areas. They are nocturnal, so they hunt for their prey during the night.

Black widow spiders eat the bugs they catch in their webs. They process food outside of their bodies. After they catch their prey, it is injected with digestive enzymes. After these enzymes soften and liquefy the prey, the black widow eats it. The spider’s abdomen expands as its stomach fills. It can live for several months without food.

Level of Danger:

Black widow spider bites are poisonous, but not deadly. Female black widow spiders are the ones with the poisonous bite; the male spiders do not bite. The bite is pale in the center with a red ring around it. Symptoms include severe cramping, weakness, sweating, headache, anxiety, itching, nausea, vomiting, difficult breathing, and increased blood pressure.

If you have been bitten, there are a couple things that you can do to ease the symptoms. Make sure to wash the area with soap and water. Put a cold washcloth or ice pack and take an over the counter pain reliever, such as Tylenol. If the symptoms are severe, it is best to go see a medical professional.

Signs of Infestation:

Black widows create messy, irregular webs. They are usually located near the ground level under some type of protective ledge. Also, seeing a black widow spider is a clear sign that the spiders are near or inside your home.


There are a couple things that you can do to avoid being bitten by a black widow spider. When you are cleaning out things that have been stored for a long time, make sure you wear heavy, thick gloves. Also, shake out your shoes before you put them on. As a general rule, stay away from spider webs.

If you see any signs of a black widow spider or suspect you have been bitten, call the professionals at Nashville Pest Control to safely get rid of the spider for you.