- Size: Female southern black widow spiders are usually about 0.5 inches, while male southern black widow spiders are around 0.25 inches.
- Color: Southern black widow spiders are shiny black with a distinctive red hourglass-shaped marking on their back.
No one loves finding a spider in their house, but no spider strikes more fear into the hearts of most people than the black widow. This spider is known for its incredibly dangerous bite and distinctive markings. What many people don’t know is that there are several distinct species of black widow spiders, known scientifically as Latrodectus, worldwide. Learn about the southern black widow, how to identify it, where to find, and what to do if you find one or more in your home.
What Are Southern Black Widow Spiders?
Southern black widow spiders are a subspecies of the well-known black widow spider. Like most other arachnids, they spin webs to catch their prey. Southern black widow spiders primarily eat insects and favor fire ants if they can find them. Once they trap their prey in the web, the southern black widow spider wraps the prey up tightly and bites them to inject their venom.
What Do Southern Black Widow Spiders Look Like?
Southern black widow spiders are very distinctive. Both male and female southern black widow spiders have shiny, black bodies with two red triangles that connect to form an hourglass shape on their undersides. Traditionally, female southern black widow spiders are about twice the size of male southern black widow spiders, with the former usually around 0.5 inches in body length and the latter 0.25 inches.
Where Do Southern Black Widow Spiders Live?
Widow spiders, which can be either black or brown, are found on every continent except Antarctica. Southern black widow spiders are native to the southern and southeastern United States. They can be found as far north as Ohio and as far west as Texas.
Southern black widow spiders prefer hiding out and building their webs in low-lying areas, although they will build webs off the ground if they must. Outdoors, common places for southern black widows to build webs and retreats include under woodpiles, underneath rocks, and inside tree stumps. Indoors, they’re commonly found in garages, sheds, basements, and outhouses.
Problems With Southern Black Widow Spiders
The biggest concern with southern black widow spiders is their nasty bites. While the venom can kill smaller creatures, death from a southern black widow bite in a human is highly unlikely. However, the effects of a southern black widow spider bite can be very uncomfortable and include muscle spasms, intense pain, nausea, perspiration, and convulsions.
It’s vital that you seek medical treatment immediately if you think or know you’ve received a bite from a southern black widow spider. As soon as you receive the bite, apply ice to the area to reduce pain and swelling. Avoid trying to apply a tourniquet, which may cause more harm than good. Once a medical professional identifies the bite, they may administer an antivenom or pain medication.
Southern Black Widow Spider Control Solutions
While the prospect of finding a southern black widow spider in your home can be terrifying, bites from these reclusive spiders are very rare. If you see a spider or their web, destroy the web using a broom or other long pole and clean up the area in which you found it. Keep rarely visited areas of your house or property clear of clutter and organic debris to deter southern black widows from building webs. If you have an infestation of multiple southern black widows, call a pest control company to help you eradicate the arachnids.
Common Southern Black Widow Spider Questions
Many people want to know more about these infamous spiders. Review these frequently asked questions to get more information about southern black widow spiders.
Can I Get Poisoned by a Dead Southern Black Widow Spider?
If you see a dead southern black widow spider, it’s extremely unlikely you can get injected with any of its venom if you touch it. The southern black widow spider must choose to bite you with venom — they can also administer non-venomous bites. If you’re nervous, wear gloves to dispose of a dead black widow spider, but know you’re unlikely to come to any harm.
Should I Kill a Black Widow Spider If I See One?
All black widow spiders only tend to bite when they feel threatened. Trying to smack or smash a southern black widow spider unsuccessfully could lead the spider to try and bite you in retaliation. You’re better off destroying its web and clearing your home and property of spider-friendly areas to deter the spider from returning than trying to kill one you see.
Do Southern Black Widow Spiders Have Predators?
Yes, southern black widow spiders do have natural predators. Some species of wasp can sting and paralyze southern black widow spiders before eating them. Praying mantises also eat southern black widow spiders. Birds have been known to swoop down and snatch up a southern black widow spider for a meal, as well.
Can I Manage an Eradication on My Own?
If you find a bunch of southern black widow spiders in your house, you should call a professional pest management company right away. They’ll have the tools, equipment, and knowledge to safely rid your home of the spiders and any food sources that might be drawing them inside.
While sustaining a life-threatening bite from a southern black widow spider is highly unlikely, they’re still not great house guests. If you see a southern black widow spider in your home, do your best to remove any hiding places to encourage it to go elsewhere. If you see multiple southern black widow spiders, call a pest management company to handle the eradication right away.