Physical Characteristics

The adult black widow spider female’s body is about 1/2 inch long, including an almost spherical abdomen about 1/4 to 3/8 inches in diameter, with overall length including legs of about 1 1/2 to 1 3/8 inches. Females are black in color with identifiable marking of a red hourglass. Males are much smaller, and their bodies are mottled. This spider strikes fear in most people who know how to identify it. However, keep reading to learn more.


Black Widow Spider


The nocturnally active black widow can be found in irregular webbing where it hangs upside down, or in sheltered spots – under stones, firewood piles and decking, or inside hollow tree stumps, trees and rodent burrows. Some favorite hiding places are in barns, outhouses, henhouses, sheds, meter boxes, bricks, barrels and woodpiles. Indoors, black widow spiders can be found in dark corners of garages, in basements and in crawl spaces – places where the insects they feed on might be found in large numbers. It’s the females that bite, and similar to mama bears, they’re normally shy unless their young – specifically, their eggs – are threatened, or right after they lay eggs. Bites are rarely fatal, except occasionally to small children; if you are bitten, call a physician or visit an emergency room.


The best way to get rid of black widow spiders is to keep your environment free of them, by removing their webbing and any silken egg sacs you find. Should you choose to do the job, be sure to wear gloves and a long-sleeved shirt (and long pants and shoes) when moving stored firewood, boxes and lumber. Exclude the spiders from coming indoors by installing tight-fitting screens on doors and windows, and caulk any cracks or crevices they might use to enter. Remove any clutter, indoors and outdoors, that might provide harborage for these spiders, like old boxes, clothing and lumber, and don’t store firewood stacked against your house. Your Clark Pest Control technician will physically sweep down all accessible spider webs as part of the service he provides, and can advise on and implement any additional spider control methods.

Latin name: Latrodectus hesperus