Very few things have the panic-producing power of black widow spiders. Black widow spiders have been living in California a lot longer than you have—over 300 MILLION YEARS LONGER to be exact. And if you have walked more than 3,000 steps today, chances are you came near one or it’s web. So, the question is not ‘are you surrounded by poisonous arachnids’ because at ground level the answer is very likely ‘YEPPERS’.

The question is, ‘should you panic?’ And if so, ‘what kind of 5-year-old-at-Candy-Store-Black-Friday-Sale panic level should you set your freak-out meter to?’ Before setting the panic dial, consider the following.

Black Widow Spiders: What You Should Know

There are three different species of the black widow spiders in North America. The most common black widow spider in California is all black with a red hour-glass on its belly. Black widow spiders are more likely found down low to the ground and prefer dark and damp places. Black widow spider webs are not symmetrical and tend to look messy or irregular—not like the typical hexagon shaped webs we normally associate with spiders. A black widow spider web is roughly 12 inches in diameter and likely found under porches or patios, under lawn furniture or play places, or attached to the floor and wall(s) in your garage. For homes with little to no spider control methods in place, it is not uncommon to have multiple black widow spider webs throughout. Black widow spiders themselves typically go unnoticed by people due to their shy, nocturnal nature.

Black widow spiders deliver the most venomous spider bite in the US and have a reputation of being dangerous. Black widow spider venom is a neurotoxin designed to paralyze their prey and can cause severe pain and discomfort to humans. Though they can be exceedingly inconvenient and painful, black widow spider bites are extremely unlikely to cause long-term medical complications or even death.

Black Widow Spiders: Should you panic?

If a person or pet in your home is bit by a black widow spider, do consult a medical professional immediately. Though it is very unlikely to suffer any long term adverse health effects from the bite, they may be able to help mitigate the pain and symptoms associated with a black widow spider bite and can be helpful in making sure unnecessary infection of the wound is prevented.

Because black widow spiders build their homes and spend their time low to the ground, it is more likely that a pet will encounter a black widow spider than you will. Even if there are black widow spiders near your pets, black widows do not bite unless they are disturbed or feel threatened—the black widow spider is not likely to seek out your pet for a meal and vice versa.

If you do suspect the presence of black widow spiders in your home, you don’t have to panic but be alert. And, call a professional, it is always better not to have a black widow spider problem than having one. To make sure the problem does not return; a regular maintenance program may be necessary.

In short, no one wants to deal with the event of a black widow spider bite at home, no matter how unlikely. So, do be alert and aware of a potential black widow spider problem. But, save the full-on pandemonium for the internet going out in the middle of watching the season 2 premiere of Stranger Things—oh yea, worse things could happen.

 

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