Black Widow Facts & Questions Answered

Many people are terrified of black widow spiders. Female black widow spiders are indeed dangerous to humans, even if the level of danger that they pose to humans is hugely exaggerated. There are larger animals that are just as dangerous or more dangerous.

However, larger animals are easier to spot and don't lurk in the small and forgotten corners of a house. People who are afraid of insects and arachnids are also going to be strongly afraid of genuinely poisonous black widow spiders. People will potentially manage to protect themselves if they are able to spot black widow spiders at the right time. Knowing more information about black widow spiders can help people defend themselves against them. 

Facts About Black Widows

  • Female black widow spiders are truly the most venomous spiders on the entire North American continent. However, the black widow is far from the most dangerous arachnid in the world.  
  • While it is true that female black widow spiders will kill and eat their mates after the mating process, it doesn't happen all the time and it is not required. 
  • Male black widow spiders are easily distinguished from the venomous females due to their much longer legs and the fact that their bodies are half as long. 
  • Female black widow spiders have red hourglass markings on the side of the abdomen that typically faces the ground. Otherwise, their bodies are entirely shiny black. 
  • Male black widow spiders have different markings from females, with red and yellow bands and spots on their backs. 
  • Juvenile black widow spiders look just like the males. 
  • The human mortality rate from black widow spiders is less than one percent. 

How common are black widows?

Black widow spiders are primarily found in warmer climates. People living in the American Southwest will be more likely to see them than the people living in the American Northeast, for instance. As a general rule, people will be more likely to see black widow spiders at a latitude of 45 degrees North and South. However, most people in North American will go their entire lives without ever seeing a black widow spider. 

What are the bite symptoms?

The good news is that people actually rarely die after being bitten by female black widow spiders. The spiders will only inject a relatively small quantity of poison during a particular bite. This is more than enough poison to kill an insect, which is what a black widow spider will eat. Black widow spiders will rarely encounter animals that are as large as humans in the wild, and large animals are much more likely to be able to withstand toxins that will kill smaller animals. People certainly don't have to live in fear of black widows. 
 
People might develop many different symptoms after getting bitten by a black widow spider. Some of these symptoms might be mistaken for the symptoms of another disease, especially if the patient in question has a tendency to get sick. If people suspect that they have been bitten by a black widow spider, they should still go to the emergency room. If it is possible, someone should try to capture and save the original spider for the sake of identification. However, this is something of a risky procedure, so people should be careful about this step. 
 
Symptoms of a black widow spider bite include nausea, dizzy spells, swelling and pain at the site of the bite, chest pains, high blood pressure, headache, salivation, a watering of the eyes, a rash, itching, breathing troubles, and the swelling of the eyelids. 
 
Washing the bite, applying an antibiotic cream, and then applying an ice pack to the wound can really help in the meantime. However, these are not ultimate solutions to the problem. If people get to the emergency room in time, they should be able to get back to normal relatively quickly.

Do male black widow spiders bite?

Male black widow spiders and juvenile black widow spiders are harmless to humans. It is possible that they might bite defensively, but it's unlikely. If they did bite, it would not be dangerous. Male black widow spider and the juveniles do not tend to be aggressive and they are much more likely to avoid humans, so this is not something that people should generally fear.