How to Get Rid of Black Widows

The black widow is a dangerous spider with a poisonous bite. It's one of the most feared spiders in the United States, rivaled only by the brown recluse. They have shiny bulbous abdomen with a red hourglass or triangular pattern. They are capable of killing small animals, the elderly and young children. It is not unusual to find them nesting in garages, crawlspaces, basements, or shoes left outside.

Getting Rid of Black Widows

To get rid of black widows, perform an inspection of the exterior. Because their outer shell is black, the black widow prefers dark and shaded areas. This helps the spider to maintain body temperature during the summer and conceals it from predators and wandering prey.

Their webs are some of the stickiest produced by any spider and lack symmetry, so if you’ve found an erratic looking web, it’s likely that it belongs to a black widow.

The webs can be found relatively low to the ground, where the spider may be hiding under leaves, between rocks and woodpiles, boxes in the garage or basement, beneath rain traps, crawl spaces, beneath vinyl siding, and low decking. When an insect becomes caught in the web, the black widow will quickly run out to catch and kill her meal. It is not uncommon to find large taupe egg sacs embedded in the web either. Each egg sac can hold several hundred black widows. Populations and sightings are highest in subdivisions that are under development or that have recently been developed. They are active only during the warmer seasons and will keep to themselves unless bothered.

Natural Black Widow Control

Black widow control combines several techniques that can be used to limit heavy populations. Because it's a dangerous spider, extra caution should be taken when following any of the advice on this page.

  • They prefer secluded areas. Wear gloves when lifting up or moving suspicious objects out of the way.
  • Do not leave shoes outside. Most contact with these spiders can be avoided by following this simple rule.
  • Black widows build chaotic webs. These webs can be found leading to crevices, under rain traps, and beneath the lips of vinyl siding.
  • Remove potential breeding sites around the home. Removal of breeding sites around the property (piles of wood, bricks, etc.) will allow for long term control.
  • Egg sacs must be destroyed. There isn’t any pesticide on the market strong enough to destroy an egg, which can hold several hundred spiders.
  • Use sticky traps at the base of the garage door. While it's rare to have black widows inside the home, garages provide a quick escape from the elements for many pests.

Webs, black widows, and eggs should be sucked up using a vacuum cleaner or displaced using the wide end of a broom. In areas with lots of clutter, consider using a leaf blower. Once again, be careful.

Professional Black Widow Control

Any product labeled for exterior use against spiders should also work for black widows. The key here is revealing any and all hideouts and performing a full perimeter spray around the foundation of the property.

  • Apply product of choice heavily beneath rain traps. Rain traps provide moist cool shelter for black widows and other insects – this is where you will find the most black widows.
  • Perform a full perimeter treatment. On homes with vinyl siding, pay special attention to the area directly under the lip of the siding.
  • Focus treatment efforts on retaining walls, brick piles, etc. Behind boxes in the garage, tools left out in the shed and any other areas you suspect.

Before conducting any treatments, make sure you are using the product as it is directed for use on the label. In some cases, heavy black widow activity may be directly related to cricket populations or other insects. The advantage of hiring a professional company to handle the black widow problems is product quantity, where many pest control companies are able to utilize 50 gallon tanks to spray down the property, targeting both black widows and the insect populations that attract them. However, carefully using the solutions outlined above should be sufficient.

Male Black Widows

The male black widow looks nothing like its female counterpart. Where the female is almost solid black, the males are mostly brown with variations of white on the abdomen. Many people believe the male is always devoured after reproduction, hence the name widow – while this can happen, sexual cannibalism is rare and not typical behavior.