Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Backyard Bushcraft - The Black Widow Spider

Black widow spiders (Latrodectus hesperus) are one of the most venomous spiders found in America. They are easily identified by the red hour glass shaped markings on the underside of their abdomen. Although they are relatively small when compared with many other spiders, their bites can be extremely painful.  The bite of a black widow spider seldom causes death because they normally only inject small amounts of poison when they bite. This usually lessens the severity of the bite and its symptoms. 

Black widow spiders are found in all the usual places and especially like moist areas. Garages, water meters, water wells, storage sheds, and outdoor lawn and patio furniture are just a few of the places they can be found.

They build unusually strong but irregular shaped webs that are normally found close to the ground. The strands of their webs are some of the strongest made by any spider.

If you happen to get bit by a black widow spider, you should seek immediate medical attention. The bite of a black widow spider can be extremely hazardous to young children, older persons and those with allergies or other medical conditions such as heart or breathing problems.

You can download a free information sheet on black widow spiders here:

Got venomous spiders?

Staying above the water line!



Double Tapper said...

I have seen them with white, yellow, red and no markings! Clearly, I have seen too danged many of the nasty creatures!

mmasse said...

I think the brown recluse is the most deadly of US venomous spiders. At least with the black widow your flesh is mostly intact on your skin.

Anonymous said...

It is amazing that such a small creature can do all that damage. We do have those creatures around here and try to take care to stay away from them.

Just be grateful we don't reside in Australia, where some of the most venomous and dangerous creatures on the planet exist, both on land and in sea.

riverwalker said...

To: Double Tapper

I'm not sure but you may be seeing the more common black house spider that has no markings but still has a painful bite.

Depending upon your geographic location, you may also be seeing the less common brown widow spider. They are extremely hard to identify because their coloration differs so much. They are also venomous.

Brown widow spiders are now found in the southeastern, southern and southwestern United States, including California, South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas and Georgia. There have been documented encounters in all of these states.

Thanks Double Tapper.


riverwalker said...

To: mmasse

The potency of the venom of a black widow spider has been compared to a prairie rattlesnake. It is a neurotoxin and even though very small amounts are generally rec'd when bitten...it's still a serious problem.

The bite of the brown recluse has a "necrotic" effect that can devastate healthy tissue and needs immediate medical treatment.

In either case, you don't want to get bitten.

Thanks mmasse.


riverwalker said...

To: anonymous 5:34

The red-backed spider in Australia is part of the same family of spiders as the black widow.

They also have the funnel web spider in Australia which is also quite dangerous.

Thanks anon.


Double Tapper said...


Didn't know all those existed. I live in Southern Louisiana and have lived in other places in the Southeast and in the Caribbean. And for the record, I don't like spiders!

Ed Vaisvilas said...

I tried several times to download the data sheet, and got the following:
Message # 404 - File Not Found

The URL (Universal Resource Locator) you've requested is invalid or does not exist on this server.

riverwalker said...

To: Double Tapper

The brown widow is one of those invasive species that is slowly spreading to different areas. They are supposedly in my area but I haven't seen any yet.



riverwalker said...

To: Ed V.

Sorry about that. I reset the link and it seems to be working now.

My bad...should have double-checked the link.

Thanks for the heads up.


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