Females are the dangerous ones of the species. A mature female black widow spider has a large, black, shiny body and measures approximately 3/8 inch long, with one-inch legs. A bright red or orange-red hourglass shape can be found on the abdomen.
The Black widow’s web is white, very strong, and irregularly shaped It’s generally spun in areas where water and insects are present. Around the home webs can be found under outdoor furniture, barbeque grills, pool pumps, in storage areas, garages, wood piles, block fences and the corners of porches and patios.
The female black widow is shy. She hides near the web by day typically in some sort of sheltered spot and is most active at night, waiting on her web for prey to enter. She produces hundreds of babies hatched from egg sacs resembling small mothballs. The young black widows are white and spread quickly after hatching.
The male black widow is much smaller, with brown and white coloring. Its bite cannot pierce human skin and is not harmful to humans because the spider is so small.
To control the black widow population spray the adult female with a strong insecticide and destroy the egg sacs. Use a flashlight at night to locate the female black widow spider in her web waiting for prey.
Signs & Symptoms
The initial bite may feel like a pin prick, which may go unnoticed. Initially victims
experience little or no visible signs of the bite such as swelling. A red circular mark may appear about six hours after the bite.
These symptoms may be progressive aching sensations with muscle pain at the bite site spreading to the lower back, thighs and limbs. Symptoms often last up to 36 hours and lingering effects may last for several weeks.
Call the Arizona Poison & Drug Information Center at 1.800.222.1222 immediately to determine whether the bite victim can be managed at home or will require treatment by a physician or hospitalization. Severe cases may require antivenin treatment.