Black widow are one of the few venomous spiders. They are often found in or under objects where their presence is not immediately obvious. In order to maintain safety, it is recommended that people performing activities where they cannot see where their hands are being placed (such as lifting boards or firewood, or reaching into storage boxes) should wear gloves to prevent being bitten by a hidden it. Also, clothing should be checked before wearing–especially if unused for a considerable time–as a spider may have taken up residence within it.
Spider Removal: Black Widow
Three species are native to the Arlington, Texas area.
Southern Black Widow: Most common of the native widow. It is the epitome of the classic widow, occurring in all the normal widow habitats. It is a glossy jet black all over, including body and legs. The only red marks are the bright red hourglass mark on the underside of the abdomen, and a red spot just behind and above the spinnerets. It occurs throughout the state.
Northern Black Widow: Very similar to the southern black widow, with the exception of its hourglass mark which is broken into 2 triangle-shaped markings. In addition there is a row of red spots down the middle of the back. Its web is a large tangled mass which is generally found at the tip of a low tree branch.
Brown Widow: Variable in color from almost white to almost black, although typically, it is a light to medium brown, with an orange hourglass marking on the underside of the abdomen. The Brown Widow leg segments are banded, with one half of each segment lighter in color than the other half. Its back often has a row of white spots (rarely they will be orange or light blue), and there are a few white stripes on each side. The darker Brown Widows lack these markings and are difficult to distinguish from black widows. They can sometimes be identified by their egg sac if it is present. Brown Widow egg sacs resemble a sand spur and are tan, spherical, and have many small tufts of silk sticking out from them, while the other widows make white, smooth egg sacs tending to be pear-shaped.
The Brown Widow tends to be extremely timid and has rarely been reported to bite. The Brown Widow appears to be the most human-adapted of the species occurring in Texas. Its webs may occur anywhere that there is sufficient space to make one. It may be extremely abundant on houses and other man-made structures (e.g., barns, fences, guard rails, bridges). The Brown Widow reproduces frequently and disperses rapidly, which makes it nearly impossible to control.
Generally, Widow Spiders are very timid and only bite in self-defense such as when they accidentally come in contact with humans. Bite symptoms of the widows are systemic, spreading through the body via the lymphatic system. They usually start about 1-3 hours after the bite has occurred. The most common symptoms of a widow bite are intense pain, rigid abdominal muscles, muscle cramping, nausea, vomiting, general malaise (not feeling well), local sweating and hypertension (high blood pressure). If left untreated, bite symptoms will generally last 3-5 days. Treatment includes Calcium gluconate and/or antivenin which is administered to relieve or counteract symptoms.
For more information on Black Widows and other spiders found in Arlington and other areas of Texas, please check out the Texas Department of State Health Services website here.
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