Black Widow: A scary story
It can be scary when you happen to encounter one of the two spiders found in Georgia that are considered hazardous to man. The black widow spider, Latrodectus mactans, can be dangerous.
The black widow females are a glossy jet black color. They have globular abdomens that have a brightred hourglass shaped marking underneath. The males are less fleshy and are light in color.
Male black widows do not bite, but the females will bite when their web is disturbed. Black widow spiders produce venom that some sources claim to be 15 times more potent than rattlesnake venom. They have tiny mouth parts and inject a very small dose. The initial bite may not be noticed by the victim. The bite is normally followed by severe pain. The pain often spreads to the abdomen and is accompanied by chills, vomiting, abdominal cramps and perspiration. Fortunately, the bite is seldom fatal. Victims often recover within a few days. Tissue does not slough off around black widow bites like it will with brown recluse bites.
Black widows feeds on insects, beetles, cockroaches, and other food items become trapped in the female’s web. She bites them which immobilizes them before she eats them. Black widows are most often found in outdoor rubbish. Beware when handling old stacks of firewood, rock piles, and stacks of building materials.
Control black widow spiders by eliminating clutter, rubbish, and other attractive web building sites. Many household insecticide products will kill black widow spiders. Wear gloves for protection when working in areas that are attractive to black widows. Make it a habit to always look before reaching under stones and outdoor debris.
If bitten by a black widow, remain calm and seek immediate medical attention. Experts recommend putting an ice pack on the site of the bite. If possible, you may want to collect the spider for positive identification.
Be cautious when working around environments that are attractive to black widow spiders. Do not give the black widow a chance to give you a scary bite!