How to Get Rid of Black Widow Spiders
The Black Widow is probably the most well known spider in North America. As children, we were all warned about the dangers of spiders. Wholesale avoidance is the solution for many parents trying to safeguard their children against a nasty spider bite. However, time and again, parents give special attention when talking to their children about the most dangerous of spiders and of course, the Black Widow is always near the top of the list. Who among us has never heard of the Black Widow with her signature red hourglass mark on her abdomen?
Then there is the Black Widow’s curious tendency to kill and eat its partner after mating, which has earned the spider not only an insidious reputation, but has made its name a synonym for women who kill men. Movies and even comic book characters use the Black Widows name to instill fear and anxiety.
As deadly as the spider sounds and regardless of the arachnophobic tendencies our parents instilled in use through warnings of the danger of spiders, Black Widows are not generally deadly. In the U.S., on average, only 3 or 4 people die from the bite of a Black Widow each year, and those deaths are generally in the very young, the very old or people who are already suffering ill health. This is not to say that the Black Widows bite won’t cause you problems, because it will. A bite from this little lady can cause muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting and profuse sweating. In severe cases, the bite can raise your blood pressure and cause headaches. It is advisable that, if a Black Widow spider bites you, that you go to a hospital immediately for an ant-venom treatment to neutralize the neurotoxins she injected in your body.
Getting rid of Black Widow spiders means first locating and eliminating any that are in, under or around your house. Black Widow spiders will lay egg sacks that contain from 100 to 400 eggs each and can lay new egg sacks several times in a single summer. So, don’t just go after the spider, make sure to get the egg sack too if you can.
Spiders like to hang out in dark spaces like cracks and gaps that are present inside your home. Black Widows are no exception. They will hide in their little holes for long periods of time waiting on prey to come along. The most common places to find them indoors are around window sills, in baseboards, behind and under furniture and just about anyplace else that provide cover, solitude and an occasional meal. Other places around your home that might harbor Black Widow spiders include your garage, basement, attic, out buildings, woodpiles, rock piles and thick vegetation.
If you are on a search and destroy mission inside your home to rid yourself of the spiders, one great method is to use a vacuum cleaner that uses a bag. Locate gaps, cracks or any other small opening and using your vacuums hose attachment, suck out whatever may be in that hole. If there is a spider in there, you will get her and any egg sacks she may be brooding. You can use this same method in other areas both inside and outside the home. Once you are satisfied you have sucked up all the spiders and their eggs, put the vacuum bag in a sealed plastic bag and throw out with the trash.
Now that you have removed the Black Widow spiders from your home, you need to ensure they never return. If you have never had a Black Widow problem, these steps will go a long way in making sure you never do. To be sure, there are any number of pesticides and insecticides and other poisonous and toxic means to eradicate a Black Widow infestation. However, if you have read any of my pest control articles, you know I avoid toxic substances to control pests and prefer instead to use ecologically friendly and natural control methods.
The first and most effective means to eliminate most pests is to remove the favorable environment. The three elements most creatures look for when selecting a place to live is shelter, food and water. Remove one or more of these elements and the unwanted pests will start looking for a more comfortable place to live.
Because the Black Widow prefers to live in small cracks and openings, the first step in eliminating a favorable environment is to seal those up, both inside and outside your home. The best way to do this is a simple caulking gun and some caulk. Seal every single hole, crack, crevasse, or other opening indoors that a spider could call home. Do the same outdoors, paying special attention to cracks around the foundation and holes where cable TV, gas and water lines enter the house, around water spigots and any other place that may provide a dark secluded hiding place for the spiders.
Other outdoor harbingers of the spider should be eliminated or moved. Woodpiles should be kept away from the home. Thick vines should be cut away as these are a favorite homestead location for spiders of all varieties. Rock piles should also be removed or relocated. Any vegetation that is in contact with or very close to your home should be cut back or removed. This includes bushes and shrubs, decorative grasses and plants.
Now that you have removed most of the places a Black Widow would prefer to live in, it’s time to attack the next part of their environment, the food supply. By eliminating or reducing the food supply, your house is now becoming less and less appealing to the spiders. However, this may be a bit more complicated than kicking them out of their home. Spiders will eat just about anything they can catch. They will eat flies, ants, even other spiders. Indoors the task is more controllable. If you have other insects such as flies or ants inside your home, take steps to eliminate them. This will choke off the spiders food supply, sending them packing.
Removing the food supply from outdoor locations around your house will be more difficult as you have far less control over the bugs that fly and crawl around outside your home than you do inside. So rather than trying to completely eliminate the food source, increase the competition for available food. This can be done by both eliminating outdoor environments that encourage insect populations and introducing or promoting other predators. If the competition for food becomes too great, the spider will look for better hunting grounds.
Though the Black Widow spider could be considered an apex predator in the insect world, it is nothing more than a snack for larger animals like birds. Once you have boarded up their homes and taken away the buffet, making them someone else’s dinner will certainly convince them its time to go. One of the spider’s primary and most veracious predators is the bird. By establishing a bird habitat you will encourage bird populations that will in turn take care of your spider problem for you. Wrens in particular will gobble up Black Widow spiders like they were candy.
If it wasn’t already bad enough that you have now placed the Black Widow on the menu for your bird friends, the last straw for the spiders come when you take steps to make your home an inhospitable place for them. Eucalyptus seems to be a natural means to keep spiders at bay, as they just can’t stand to be around the stuff. Placing eucalyptus sprigs or using eucalyptus oil on cotton balls in closets, cupboards, under the bed and other out of the way areas will repel most spiders including Black Widows.
There are actually a host of natural deterrents that you can use to eliminate Black Widow spiders. Essential oils like spearmint, peppermint, citronella and rose all are effective at both killing Black Widows and repelling them. After mixing the oil with water in a spray bottle, spray onto areas where the spiders are located. It will not only kill the spider but will prevent other spiders from moving in. Hedge Apples are also said to deter spiders. Cut into quarters, place them in out of the way areas where spiders are located and soon the spiders will be gone. Chestnuts are another natural deterrent. Place some around the house and on windowsills and Black Widows and other spiders will keep on walking rather than come into your home.
About Ron Warner
I have never been satisfied with things as they are. Yes I suffer from the "Grass is Greener Syndrome". I have been a ditch digger and the GM of a mortgage company. I have worked as a fry cook, Branch Manager for a major Stock Brokerage firm, a roofer, a car salesman, an IT Network Admin, a landscaper, a radio DJ and the list goes on. 30 years of exposure to such a variety of professions and vocations has given me a wealth of knowledge and a unique insight of the world around us. My family and I have enjoyed the savings I have experienced by being able to do many things for myself rather than needing to hire someone else to do the job. True, some may refer to me as a job hopper. But how many computer geeks can roof their house? What does a car salesman know about investing? Know any Stock Brokers who can change a water heater? Yeah, I did not think so. Yes, Life has been good so far.