Spider Spiders Everywhere: The Widow Spider
If you have ever lived in a wooded area you are well aware of the creepy crawlies that hide in cracks and crevices. Even if you don’t live in these areas you know that they exist- just maybe not where you can see them. Spiders are one of those insects that hide well and prefer not to be found- and humans would rather not find them too. Some spiders are harmless while others- not so much. These harmful spiders are known to be venomous meaning they have a venom that can be injected into your body and cause damage…..or death.
In Florida there is one well-known venomous spider that dwells in wooded and sometimes residential areas; the Black widow. Four types of widow spiders exist; the northern black widow, the red widow, and the most commonly found in Florida the southern black and the brown widow.
What do widow spiders look like?
Widow spiders generally have the same body structure; a rounded abdomen, eight legs, and an hourglass shape on the underbelly. The difference in colors is as follows
Brown Widow: the abdomen can range from light tan to dark brown, the hourglass can range from orange to yellow-orange, and their legs can have markings that range from orange to brown.
Southern Black: the abdomen, legs, and head are a glossy black, the hourglass underside is a solid bright red.
Northern Black: the abdomen, legs, and head are also a solid glossy black, the hourglass in a solid red, the top of the abdomen has two red triangles that resemble an hourglass shape.
Red Widow: the abdomen is black, the head, thorax, and legs are red-orange, the top of its abdomen has red spots in a row with yellow borders, and there is no hourglass on the underside of the abdomen, but usually has red spots.
What do their eggs look like?
Growing up in Florida you might have stumbled upon a web or two with some spikey white to cream colored balls. These are what widow eggs look like. They are small roughly the size of a pencil eraser but orb shaped. Your safest route is to leave egg sacks alone and call a professional like Seabreeze Pest Control. Remember that black widows WILL defend their web so if you agitate them in any way they will attack.
Do they live near me?
Unfortunately, if you live in Florida then yes. Widow spiders can be found inside your home and outdoors. There are a few areas that each species prefers to live. For example, the southern black widow usually likes areas with more protection such as sewers, logs, stumps, crawls spaces, and garages. The northern black widow is found in forests and their webs can be found from 3 feet and above the ground. The red widow builds is web off the ground in sandy or pine-shrub areas on palmetto plants. The brown widow is less picky and can be in any of the above areas along with on fencing, bridges or garbage cans.
You are in Luck. They are timid.
At least there is some good news, right? Well lucky for everyone widow spiders are non-aggressive and will only bite if they’re backed into a corner. The brown widow won’t even defend its web! But watch out because black widows will. Just stay away and if you see their eggs call an expert or do extensive research. In any case, stay far away.
What happens if they bite?
Well because they are venomous they are considered a deadly spider. See here for more details about symptoms: UF HEALTH. If you suspect that you have been bitten by a widow spider contact your doctor right away and if possible securely capture it and bring it to them.
For more information visit this public source from UF: edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/mg/mg20600.pdf