What you don’t want to see in your garden

black widow
This is what you don’t want to see in your garden. Especially at the base of the steps that your toddler just sat at and which you just walked over.

Every year we catch a few black widows, but they are usually back in the wood pile or under rocks. This time it was right out in the open. And it was huge. Unreal looking. I mean, doesn’t it look like a dime store plastic ring? Although we don’t use an exterminator, everytime I see one of these in our yard, I have a strong desire to call one and just have them spray the heck out of our yard. However doing a little reading up on them made me feel a tad bit better about Scott and my fatality should we ever get bitten:
black widow

Although their venom is extremely potent, (15 times more potent than that of the rattlesnakes; it is also reported to be much more potent than the venom of cobras and coral snakes), these spiders are not especially large. Compared to many other species of spiders, their chelicerae are not very large or powerful. In the case of a mature female, the hollow, needle shaped part of each chelicera, the part that penetrates the skin, is approximately 1.0 millimeters (about .04 in) long, long enough to inject the venom to a point where it can be harmful. The males, being much smaller, inject far less venom with smaller chelicerae. The actual amount injected, even by a mature female, is very small in physical volume. When this small amount of venom is diffused throughout the body of a healthy, mature human, it usually does not amount to a fatal dose (though it can produce the very unpleasant symptoms of latrodectism). Deaths in healthy adults from Latrodectus bites are relatively rare in terms of the number of bites per thousand people. Sixty-three deaths were reported in the United States between 1950 and 1990.

However I still live in fear that one of our boys gets bit. It’s a good thing the ER is just a few blocks away. Has anyone heard of anyone getting bit by one of these? Anyone have any near misses?
black widow


Filed under Bad Bugs

8 responses to “What you don’t want to see in your garden

  1. Oh oh oh my. Just seeing those pictures gives me the major heebie jeebies! I have been trying to be more tolerant of my instense dislike for anything biglike because of my garden this year, but spiders still get me. Oh oh my. The worst thing we get here in terms of spiders (so far) are those big brown hairy wood spiders, and we also get some sort of spider-cricket cross breed that looks absolutely disgusting and will jump right at you if you approach it. Terrifying.

  2. Black widows really freak me out (along with the rest of the spider family especially wolf spiders). We had plenty of them in Colorado where I grew up. We were taught as kids never to pick any rock or piece of wood up without looking under it first. Of course when I found one was in my bathtub I wouldn’t take a bath for a while. They aren’t very aggressive though. I’d worry a little with a toddler because they might want to pick it up. But really if your stats are right then about 1 1/2 people die a year from the bite. You are more likely to be hit by lightning, die from a bee sting, or be seriously injured in a car.

  3. We found one in the door frame of our front door a few weeks ago. *faint*

    I grew up in Southern Arizona where widows were aplenty. But I’ve never known anyone personally bit by a widow, so I guess the chances must be pretty slim.

  4. asonomagarden

    Thanks for the comments ladies. We have to be more attentive to teaching the boys to look carefully under rocks and sticks before they pick them up. I hate to teach them to be afraid of all spiders.

    My girlfriend found a black widow hanging over her head while she was taking a shower! That’s freaky! Atleast so far, they have stayed out of our house.

  5. I hate spiders! they totally gross me out! I live in NY and I cant even stand the little brown hairy looking things we gt hete……I scream like a baby! LOL
    I would really hate for one of my toddlers to get bitten by a spider! I have boys and OF COURSE they would pick one of those up!!!!!

  6. OH boy…. my worst black widow experience thus far came by walking into our pump house to put a load of laundry into the dryer and a big glistening mama had made a web in the doorway and was perched right at face level…. I usually travel on the property sans flashlight but that night for some LUCKY reason I had one in my hand! I came within milimeters of it.. shake…. bluuuuuggggg….

    I’ve been trying to get one in our garden for days. It is fast and vanishes into the loose stack rock wall before I can swipe it with my garden trowel 😦

    My 2 year old watches and we talk about big black shiny spiders… OWIE!

  7. Amy

    Boy, I seem to have had troubles with these guys all my life! Let me be the first to say, that yes I have been bitten by a Black Widow Spider. I grew up in the central valley and was bitten as a child just below my knee. I will never forget it. I felt very sick to my stomach. My mother rushed me to the hospital, but we were 30 minutes from town. By then my knee was twice the size it should of been.
    Having children of my own, I have taught them to watch for the signs, such as a black widows web is very strong. Stronger and a bit shinier than other webs. So get a stick and test it. If it seems to be giving you a bit more of a struggle, than the average web, you may have them around. I taught the women at our kids, co-op nursery school. (Black widow webs with occupants were in all 4 corners of the sand box!)No one was bit.
    I try to take care of the few that I come across in the yard with brute force, but one year we had a very large out break. I hadn’t gotten to what seemed like a fairly large amount on the back patio and yard, and before I knew it, even the dog had been bit. (Our large breed turned out fine, but he was very ill as well). The baby BW Spiders are white and our back patio was crawling with them. There isn’t much out there on the market that will kill spiders, because they have the legs and walk right over the spray. Black Widows are even worse. Any desperate woman armed with a cleaning closet, and has sprayed it with everything, only to watch as the black beast gets up and crawls from it’s pile of Ajax, knows this.
    There is a spray (I know, I know, but it was bad), it is used for barns to keep the pests (especially the Black Widow) away from the horses. In fact it is used and sprayed directly on the horses themselves. It was called Pymectrin. You should be able to find it at any place they are selling horse supplies. It is now been slightly changed and reformulated, but when I use this even near where the BW Spiders are, they fall out dead. (No need to hunt). Again, I was dealing with a very large amount of these lovely Spiders and needed to get them in control. I hope that no one else finds them selves in this situation, but this helped.

  8. Hazel

    My little sister has been bitten by a black widow twice! To tell if it is a black widow the bite may become excruciating and swollen, It may be black widow. If the center of the bite begins to turn purple like a bruise, then you know it is a black widow! Just go to a pharmacy and tell them what it is. They will give you antibiotics and the bite will be gone in a couple days!

    I hope this eased some of your fears.

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