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How To Kill Black Widow Spiders

Lactrodectus Mactans

The Fear Of Black Widow Spiders (Arachnophobia)

To begin with, you should know I am a card carrying "Arachnophobia Anonymous" member! I do not like spiders in the yard, the house, or in your yard or your house, or the street, the trees,...well you get the point. Ever since I was bitten by a black widow spider back in the late 1980s, the most frightening of the species for me, is in fact the black-bodied red-clad Black Widow Spider!

Black Widow Spider

Black Widow Spider

Killing Eight Legged Freaks

Even though my thoughts are dialed in on the demise of all eight legs of these creepy crawlers, I am told spiders do serve a purpose in nature. I have never been fully convinced by any spider that it deserved to live, but I am trying to keep an open mind. (Honestly, I must admit it is difficult to hear their spidery pleas with all the screaming and panicking I do.) Regardless, if you are at all like me—on a seek-and-destroy mission when it comes to black widow spiders—here are a few things you should know about killing this particular eight-legged freak.


The Male Black Widow Spider

Are Male Black Widow Spiders Poisonous

It is widely known that the female black widow spider kills and eats her male suitor following mating if he is not swift enough to escape her grasp; she is after all, quite a bit bigger than him. Which is where this particular genus of spider gets its macabre "widow" monicker. But, the truth is she will only eat him if she mistakes him for a meal, which generally happens when she is in captivity, and rarely when in her natural environment. (I can't place all of the blame on her, obscure social behavior is common across all species of life when in captivity, even in humans.) The male black widow is not only about half the size of the misses, he really is considered quite a harmless little guy.

The Venom Of Black Widow Spiders

The female spider has unusually large venom glands that can pack a real wallop should a bite occur. It is rare for a human to die from such a bite, providing proper medical attention is applied to the bite wound site. With his gal-pal in mind, it may seem a little odd that the male black widow spider presents no threat to us at all. This is (thankfully) because, the male black widow has venom that is three times less potent than his big female partner, making his venom totally ineffective on humans. (However, there is little doubt in my mind that he still has got to go!)

What Do Male Black Windows Look Like

The male black widow spider's legs are longer and more gangly than his female counterpart. His color will deepen as he ages, turning to a deep brownish-black over time. When he was a young naïve arachnid, he proudly sported a subtle brownish-orange to translucence-white 1exoskeleton.

An adult male black widow sports a far less sinister look than does the shiny-black and bright-red hourglass tattooed gal he calls, "Darling". Rather than wearing a cloche of black, the adult male widow is generally dressed in a classic dark-brown or off-black suit with a couple of lovely light-yellow or white stripes, as well as a tasteful-few red dots across the back.

1 Exoskeleton is the hard outer protection of the spider's body made from chitin and protein. It's like wearing your skeleton on the outside.

Black Widow Spider Fact

The black widow spider belongs to the "cobweb" spider family. They spin trap-webs that are loosely organized, but have an amazingly high degree of entrapment engineering applied. Unlike most cobweb spiders, the widow hides under furniture and appliances throughout the home leaving the rest of the family to clutter up the corners where your ceilings and walls meet.

Black Widow Spider's Natural Enemies

Does the Black Widow Spider Have a Natural Enemy

Even as they have not been considered as biocontrol sources for the black widow spider, a few parasites and predators are considered to be its natural enemies. Below is a chart that gives you the common, as well as scientific names of these enemies.

Natural Enemies of Black Widow Spiders

Information derived from University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture:


Kills Egg Sac

Flightless Scelionid Wasp

(Baeus latrodeci)


Members of the Chloropid Fly

Genus (Pseudogaurax)

Kills Adut Spiders

Blu Mud Dobber Wasp

(Chalybion califoricum)


Spider Wasp

(Tastiotenia festiva)


Mantis, centipede



Eucalyptus leaves and their oils





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The Black Widow Spiderweb

Black Widow Spider Silk Tinsel Strength

For those who keep up with the spider news, this may not come as a big surprise. But, the tinsel strength of the black widow spiderweb has been tested to be strong, but no stronger than those circular fashioned webs made by orb-weaving spiders. According to studies, the tinsel strength of a black widow spider's web-silk is comparable to the strength of steel wire measuring the same thickness. But, because steel is about six times more dense than spider silk, the silk is quite a bit stronger than steel when measured by weight. No matter the strength of any spider silk, having it plastered across your face as you walk around in the garage is bound to cause some very spastic human reactions!

Where Do Black Widow Spiders Live

What Is The Black Widow Spider's Favorite Habitat

You can be sure to run into a black widow at some point if you provide the following environments for them to hunker down:

  • Toy boxes that are deep
  • Play structures
  • Dark crevices
  • Wood pile
  • Meter boxes
  • Ivy plants
  • Trash piles
  • Outhouses (privies)
  • Furniture that isn't moved a lot
  • Under appliances
  • Garage
  • Any place that is dark and not regularly disturbed
  • Under eves

Because Dark Crevices Are Where Black Widows Like To Live

It is always a good idea to "look before you reach" into any dark, usually undisturbed area around the house. Black widow spiders are kind of shy, so they prefer this type of habitat. The female can stay in the same undisturbed location for her entire life (1 to 3 years in the wild, and as long as four years in captivity) when left alone. The widow generally stays outdoors, where food and mates are more apt to wonder past. But, in the cold wet months she will migrate into your home and join you for the winter.

Black Widow Spider Bite

What Happens When You Get Bit By A Black Widow Spider

The black widow fangs—technically chelicerae—are less than a millimeter long, but they are tiny tubes that are sharp enough to push some of the most powerful neurotoxic venom found on Earth right into your bloodstream.

The black widow venom, alpha-latrotoxin, is twelve-times more poisonous than the same amount of venom unleashed by a rattlesnake. It is a complex poison that affects the control of your cardiovascular and muscular system.

Black Widow Spider Bite Video

The black widow bite, may bring a sudden and very sharp pain. The pain is quick to spread-out from the bite site to your abdominal area, primarily around your stomach and back. Stiffness and cramps are not far behind. Then nausea, increased blood pressure, and difficulty breathing creeps up. Now the vomiting begins, as well as irregular heartbeat, convulsions, and all-over discomfort that can include priapism (unnatural stiffening of the penis...if you're a guy).

The next stage of black widow envenomation results in facial spasms, pale skin, anxiety, and the unnatural and involuntary ability to control your movements. While this is all going on, you will notice that your mucus and spit have increased immensely, and that liquid is now filling your lungs, which will prevent oxygen from traveling to all of your other organs (this is known as non-cardiac pulmonary edema). Which unless you get treatment, the lights to your personal temple are sure to flicker out from hypoxia—reduced oxygen supply to your body's organs.

Spider Bite First Aid

Spider Bite First Aid

First Aide For A Black Widow Spider Bite

*Treating a Black Widow Spider Bite

a). Clean the bite site immediately upon discovery.
b). Apply a cold pack to the area to help slow venom absorption into the body.
c). Seek Medical attention.
d). Keep feet raised to chest level (heart level).
e). Envenomation generally responds well to intravenous applications of calcium gluconate or calcium salts.
f). Antivenin is readily available and highly recommended for those who have an extreme reaction to a black widow bite.

*Information on treatment and first aide of a black widow spider bite is derived from:

Us National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health

Black Widow Spider Anatomy

Black Widow Spider Anatomy

6 Steps To Getting Rid Of Black Widow Spiders

Killing Black Widow Spiders

1. Identify the black widow spider - Males are harmless, while you must be very cautious around the females. She is a bulbous shiny-black spider with a vibrant red bow-tie shaped mark on her abdomen/back.

2. Use pyrethrin pesticides to kill black widow spiders - Be sure to stay far enough away from a black widow during extermination, as this tiny spider is going to fight back. An aerosol spraying dispenser (spray can or bottle) is recommended. Spray the poison directly on the spider's body and her web. (WEARING A BREATHING FILTER/MASK DURING USE IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.)

3. Kill black widow spiders where they live - Professionals also recommend using pest control dusters. They are pretty cheap and quite effective. Spray crawl spaces, foundation outside, foundation vents, crevices inside. Look for slow release (microencapsulated) formulas, as they will work best.
4. Preventing black widow spider infestations - Prevention is much easier than eradication! Maintain the caulking around widows and doors, and apply weatherstrip to exits.

What You Think Really Does Matter

5. Plants touching the house can bring black widow spiders - Spiders LOVE Ivy-type crawling plants, and the black widow is no different. Keeping these from actually touching the house can help keep black widows (and other spiders) away.
6. Regular cleaning discourages black widow spiders - Of all the chores that reduce spider activity, vacuuming is tops! The vacuum sucks up the spider eggs, their dust, along with the dangerous adult female black widow herself. Keeping things clutter-free around the house to reduce hiding places for her to live is recommended as well. ***(Be very careful when emptying or throwing out the full vacuum bags. She may have been sucked-up, but she may also still be alive, and this feisty black spider will be looking for something to fight!)***

Black Widow Conclusion

No matter if you are afraid of spiders or not, getting rid of the black widows around your home should be high on your honey-do list. Even as only about 5% (3 to 5 annually) of those bitten by a black widow will die from the toxic bite, many more are sure to get very sick. Members of the black widow family can be found worldwide, and actually account for most all of the fatal spider bites encountered. The female widow spider is built to kill, so much so that, even her web was used in the twentieth century to make the crosshairs in the scope's of sniper rifles. With such a deadly resume, you can be sure that exterminating black widow spiders from your home is a very good thing!

Comments for "How To Kill Black Widow Spiders"

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on July 30, 2018:


you make a very good point that indeed should have been added to the article. Thank you for clearing things up.

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on July 27, 2018:


Wow, I do not wish to ever get bitten. These little troublemakers can get in loads of places, they seem to be laying in wait.

I hope your hubby avoids this experience in the future.

Nice to see you came by. Wishing you a great day.

Jeanne Rene from Northern California on August 31, 2014:

What a wonderful Hub. I'm new to HubPages and so I'm browsing. I am so glad I came across your Black Widow Hub ... it's entertaining, funny and so very, very informative. We've lots of Black Widows and I go on what what I call regularly a "black widow hunt" usually around 10 or 11 at night, armed with spray and/or a tennis shoe or flip-flop. I'm really not afraid of spiders, but I don't want the Widows around, so we do keep the sides of the house clutter and bush free. But I tell ya' some of the facts you include in this hub are really good to know and actually have made me a bit more concerned. I'm going out with my flip-flop right now! Great hub!!!!!

we juy on February 04, 2014:

curse spiders

Just Trolling from Lovely Southern California on October 22, 2013:

Loved this!! Hysterical, yet spot on and informative. When I clicked the link to this article I was so scared I was coming to an article that would say "put on tennis shoes and squish her." You're so melodramatic in your fear of spiders, I just love it!! Anyway, there is actually a reason for spiders, just imagine how many INSECTS would invade the world if we have no spiders at all. I have an unknown spider that is quite interesting looking that spins the most awesome orb webs that I let live on my patio. The gardeners come and blow it's web away and the next day, it's back, the most perfectly round web, absolutely fascinating. I know, that probably isn't going to help you sleep at night!! I live in Southern California and regularly hunt my yard for these little buggers. No matter how diligent I am, I will always find at least two a week, like they just materialize. When I find them, they die. I have cats and dogs who I have no desire to spend thousands on in vet bills, thank you. Just today I was cleaning the outdoor waterer and there is a crevice and it had a web in it. If you've spent anytime studying widows, you KNOW their webs. I took it inside to clean it, being careful. I flushed it with a stream of HOT water and saw an itty bitty black ball. I got the magnifying glass trying to confirm it was the spider. Assuming it was the spider, I continued carefully cleaning and looking and I will be darned, those long black creepy legs were hanging from the back of the crevice and it was no itty bitty spider. She was a good medium sized witch living where my dogs and cats put their noses!! She's dead. I live in a neighborhood with a lot of retaining walls with ledges and brickst and I actually go hunting the neighborhood. I suppose I should start charging the neighbors for pest control services. I cover about a 4 block Some other thoughts on how to kill them (no environmentally friendly, but if you're in a bind, it works), you can spray them with over cleaner, spray starch (that you would use to iron your close) or (if you're really brave and know what you're doing, PLEASE DON'T GET BIT) you can use a stick that's about 12 inches long and swipe above the spider (she should stay attached, if not put on tennis shoes and squish have a small container with a lid with a small amount of bleach ready and drop her in it...she won't be feeling so good. Personally, I have cans of spider spray at the front door and the back door. As I said, they seem to materialize. One day, there isn't a spider, and the next day, I come home after dark and my headlights sweep in and there's one hanging from the eves. Personally, I tend to find many, many more hanging out low to the ground than I do up high. Of the hundreds (no exaggeration) I've killed, less than 10 have been in the eves. I do (however morbid as it maybe) just started to keep them from crawling back into their crevice and keep the carcass so I can keep tally of me v. the widows. As of the last 2 weeks, it's me 6 dozen or so, spiders zero. Tonight I'm scheduled to go get a nice sized one from my next door neighbor's drain pipe...she's a lucky one though...for some odd reason, I've decided to keep her a pet. I'm naming her On a side note, according to LiveScience, spider silks were already the toughest known biomaterials, able to absorb massive amounts of energy before breaking. However, researchers have now revealed the Darwin's bark spider has the toughest silk ever seen — more than twice as tough as any previously described silk, and more than 10 times stronger than Kevlar. MY NOTE: It has long been known that weight for weight, spider silk is stronger than steel, it's no wonder we all have spazmatic seizures when our faces run into one of those things!! OK...the last thing I'll say on this uber long comment, you didn't mention anything about adolescent widows. They (like the males) are not venomous, and they are also different coloring. They're kind of orangey brownish and have kind of cool striping. Thanks for the great read, and sorry for the lonnnnng comment!!

Ruth McCollum from Lake Oswego, Oregon on October 07, 2012:

I WILL WAKE MY HUSBAND UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT TO KILL THOSE THINGS. I don't trust anything that has 8 legs and can run that fast! I DON'T CARE WHAT KIND OF SPIDER IT IS I HATE THEM! I saw one on my walk in closet ceiling the other day and I LOST HIM BEFORE HUBBY COULD COME. NOW I KNOW HE'S LURKING IN THERE WAITING TO POUNCE ON ME !TRUE. interesting hub especially about the male black widow. STILL YOU CAN HAVE THEM. Don't like any kind of spider anywhere near me, my house or my yard either!fOLLOWING YOU GREAT HUBS. YOU CAN HAVE THIS ONE THO LOL!

Christine on September 25, 2012:

I've had abundance of brown widows (28 by the front steps and door in the last 2 weeks. Eight on the back patio tonight, even though I removed all the webs today) and two black widows. I leave them pretty much alone if they're away from the area's generally frequented. However, they have become a nuisance in places I walk and sit. I hate using pesticides so I use boiling water. Kills them instantly so I don't have to worry about them suffering (people say they don't hurt, but since God made them they must feel pain).

My method is to sweep cobwebs away and wash area down during the day. A few hours after dark I use a flashlight to look for new webs, note the location and return with a large plastic measuring cup (4 pints) filled with boiling water which I pour directly on the spider. Keep in mind it must be almost slashed on them or else they’ll disappear back into their hiding place.

This is the most environmentally friendly way I have found. Yes it takes more time and effort than a can of spray but I have a load of lizards, quite a few of bees and wasps, a few butterfly, dragonfly’s and hummingbirds so I don’t want to use toxic substances.

Thank you, terrific article

Amy Measel on September 06, 2012:

About a week and a half ago I came home to find a black widow right outside my front door, I was terrified! Today I came home to find 2 outside my door. I'm freaking out. Spiders come inside my home right under my door and I have an infant. I've killed many scurrying across my floor without figuring out what kind they are. Now I am jumping at any little movement and am literally having anxiety attack. I live in an apartment and am going to the office tomorrow. I saved the 2 spiders I killed tonight in a jar and will bring them into the office also. Freaking out!!!!!!!

PADDYBOY60 from Centreville Michigan on September 04, 2012:

I was bitten back in the early 70's, when I lived in south Texas. The reason I was bitten ,was because I was moving lumber, and there was a bunch of them in that lumber pile. By the time my wife found me, I was on the bathroom floor, my muscles were killing me, I was vomiting, and my lungs felt like they were made of concrete. I couldn't breathe. My wife and boss, ( I worked on the ranch where I was bitten). hauled me to the hospital.

FullOfLoveSites from United States on September 03, 2012:

great hub and these tips will surely help as steps of precautions from black widows. Better be safe than sorry.

johnnicholson83 from London on September 02, 2012:

Great hub I actually don't hate spiders that much but I also think that they're really creepy. I got bitten once by a spider and it was quite painful. It wasn't the deadly kind like the Black Widow but it hurt like hell. I have a friend that breeds Amazonian tarantulas and really tries to make me like them but .... they're just mindless predators that want to hunt. You can't pet them (well you can but it's pretty stupid to believe that the spider likes it) and they will not love you for the food you give them. They're fascinating creatures but I just don't like them. My friend told me that most spiders love it when they have somewhere to hide, so if you want to get rid of them mown you lawn frequently and de-clutter your yard. That way they will not have a good place to hunt and make their spider webs.

Tony from At the Gemba on August 29, 2012:

Reading this I am watching a large house spider about the size of my hand. One of the joys of living here in the Philippines are these wonderful spiders - I don't kill them, there are too many other bugs that they kill that worry me more!

As to the black Widow, I remember when I was much younger my younger bother had just gone to bed when he screamed.. we all went running into the room to see what had happened and he pointed to a fat bulbous spider on the ceiling. Me being a caring big brother slapped my brother as he had spent the day playing with plastic bugs so this was obviously another plastic bug - then I reached out to take it and it moved!!!!

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on July 31, 2012:

@MundaneMondays~ Thanks for sharing Eugenol Oils for spider demise! Sometimes, natural is the only way to go when young children are around. Great advice. I appreciate that you shared your knowledge here.


@Mama Kim 8~ California has an abundance of these scary spiders! I hope the information provided in this article can help keep people safe from spider harm! Thanks for commenting.


MundaneMondays on July 27, 2012:

Terrified of spiders, i use Eugenol Oils they're very safe. In the event of children this method also kills these beasts

Aloe Kim on July 27, 2012:

This hub is incredibly thorough!! You got everything in here ^_^

I used to live in Southern CA and had to deal with These scary spiders much more than I would have liked... I wish I had this hub to refer to earlier in life.

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on July 24, 2012:

@MundaneMondays~ Thanks for the comments, I will have to make it by to see your methods.


@mecheshier~ Being one who has little love for arachnids, knowing that both the brown recluse and brown widow are on the rise in terms of population growth is a very unwelcome thought. Thanks for clearing up the differences between these two brown terrors. But for me, the black widow still holds the #1 spot on my least favorite spider list! Thanks for the comments.


mecheshier on July 24, 2012:


The brown recluse spider is not the same as the brown widow spider (it also has the red hourglass under the belly). Yes, brown recluses are deadly. Mass invasion of he brown widow in California has been hitting big time news. It is a elatively recent arrival to Southern California. Here is a small piece of a news clip you might be interested in taken from

“The brown widow is really taking over,” said Richard Vetter, a staff research associate at UC Riverside and coauthor of a paper detailing the survey, being published Monday in the Journal of Medical Entomology. Collecting data at 72 sites in Orange and Riverside counties, Vetter and his colleagues found brown widows at a rate 20 times greater than the rate at which they found black widows — at least, when they searched around people’s homes.

MundaneMondays on July 24, 2012:

good hub you should check my methods out

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on July 24, 2012:

@Doc Sonic~ I feel you brother! Anything with eight legs freaks me out! I am so glad you felt the hub was an entertaining take on black widow spiders, I like the sound of that. Thanks for making it by, sir!


@theclevercat~ Honestly, I was squeamish the entire time a I was writing this one! I appreciate that you made it by.


@moonlake~ Holy Cr*ap! I would be so scared if a black widow was near my dog, so having one near my child would cause a pretty intense stomping motion to take place! How awful that must have been. I currently live in California, so we see these spiders all of the time! Yuck! They are a nasty critter in my opinion! I think you are lucky to live where you don't have to worry about them anymore! Thanks for sharing your story!


@Sherry Hewins~ I would be in a constant state anxiety if they were hanging around all under my eves and such! Blasé may be how you deal with a black widow community living in such close proximity to you. Personally, I could not handle it. Sending you safe spider encounter wishes! Thanks for leaving your comments.


@mecheshier~ I do know about the dang brown recluse spider here in California,...yep,...hate this one too! This guy has an even deadlier bite than does the black widow! I read a few really great (gross spider bite pictures) hubs about the brown widow (brown recluse) and discovered a whole new level of "freaked out" surrounding my arachnophobia! You are right, this one is on the population incline! I need a drink AND a tranquilizer...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!


mecheshier on July 24, 2012:

Great Hub. Wonderful information and pics. Voted up for interesting and awesome. Hey, did you know that there are different types of widow spiders. I have been hearing in the media that the brown widow spider is making a comeback.

The brown widow spiders have been in Southern California for a decade, but over the past year their population has exploded. I am also hearing that Florida's widow is also populating rather quickly. yikes.

Sherry Hewins from Sierra Foothills, CA on July 23, 2012:

We have Black Widow spiders all over around here, all under the eves of the house and underneath the house. I rarely see one in the house. I've never know anyone who got bit by one, so I don't worry about it much. The effect of their bite does sound very unpleasant. Maybe I'm too blasé about those spiders.

moonlake from America on July 23, 2012:

We don't have black widows here but we did have them in California. My son was a baby on the floor and I caught one headed right for him. We had a friend end up in the hospital from the bite of one. Voted Up

Rachel Vega from Massachusetts on July 23, 2012:

Eeeeek! This hub is comprehensive, but I must admit it all gives me the willies. Great job and voted interesting and up... gotta skedaddle now! ;^)

Glen Nunes from Cape Cod, Massachusetts on July 23, 2012:

Interesting hub. I really, really hate spiders too - and unlike you, I've never been bitten by one! I just don't like 'em. This was a very entertaining take on black widows.

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on July 23, 2012:

@Sunshine625~ I am so glad you found the hub to be educational as well as entertaining! The whole darn thing just gives me the Hebe-jeebees! I am grateful for your support Linda. Thanks for the comments.


@TToombso8~ LOL! The only way I actually like spiders is in their tattoo form! So, absolutely we can still be friends! ;) I sure hope you find success with killing those daddy long legs, they creep me out! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on a little spider advice.


@Curiad~ Thanks for the wonderful pointer regarding Bayer Advanced Home Pest Control. I may have to start buying this stuff by the case!...I wonder if they make it in a handy pocket sized version?... I really appreciate that you made it by today!


Terrye Toombs from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. on July 23, 2012:

Awesome hub! I've got an issue with daddy long legs ALL over the place. I've been killing 3 - 5 a day all over our new apartment. It's driving me batty..

Can we still be friends if I tell you that I have a black widow tattoo? :)

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on July 23, 2012:

Not only is this article useful and educational it's also very entertaining. The way you described the male and female relationship I felt I was invading their space! Well done India!

I 2nd Curiad's pest control advice.

Curiad on July 23, 2012:

Bayer Advanced Home Pest Control works very well. It is a spray, lasts months and kills Black Widows as well as many other insects and bugs including Cockroaches.

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