How Dangerous Are Black Widow Spiders?

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The Black Widow Is A Venomous Spider- But Is It Dangerous?

Black widow spider red back

It is widely known that the black widow spider delivers a potent venom that can cause death. Some claim that it is 15 times more powerful than the venom of a rattlesnake. But, what is not so widely known is that black widow spider bites hardly ever lead to death here in the United States. While the venom from this spider is powerful, it is meant to take down much smaller creatures than a human. But, that does mean it doesn't hurt. A bite from a black widow can be quite painful. And the symptoms associated with black widow spider bites are unpleasant, to say the least.

So, "how dangerous is a black widow spider?" It depends on your definition of dangerous. If your definition of "dangerous" is something that can kill you, the black widow spider isn't all that dangerous. Here in the U.S., where there is quick and easy access to medical care, the critical symptoms caused by this spider can be avoided.

If your definition of dangerous is something that can cause a painful bite that can lead to nausea, chills, fever, muscle cramps and spasms, stomach and body pain, shock, and severe high blood pressure, then this species of spider is definitely dangerous. But, even in this, the level of danger can vary. Black widow spiders can decide how much venom they are going to inject. If the venom dose is low, the resulting symptoms will be low. Symptoms vary depending on age, physical health, and other factors, as well. For one person, a bite may cause days of sickness. For another, there may be hardly any symptoms.

It bears mentioning that black widows are not aggressive spiders, in general. If you startle one, it is more likely to run away than it is to bite you. Bites usually occur when this spider is pressed against the skin. This can happen when you slide into bed with a black widow tucked beneath the covers, when you grab something in your yard to flip it over and put your hand on a black widow, when you slide your foot into a shoe that has a black widow hiding in it, or some similar situation.

How dangerous something is should also be evaluated by the level of risk. If you don't have any black widows on your property and have never seen a black widow, the danger is low. If, on the other hand, you see black widows every time you move things around in your yard, or when you go into a storage area to grab something, the danger is much higher. The quantity of spiders is definitely a factor.


Black widows are a shiny black color with a bright red hourglass symbol on the bottom of their abdomen. Since it is the only shiny black spider you're going to find crawling around on your property, the hourglass symbol is seldom needed for identification.

If you see a black widow, it is likely to be in its web, which should look like a tangled mess. But, all of those tangles aren't an accident. It isn't that this is a lazy spider. Black widows eat larger prey than other spiders, and their webs need to be more robust than a simple sheet of tender fibers.

Black Widow Bite Prevention

  • Pull covers back before getting into bed.
  • Shake footwear before sliding your feet in.
  • Reduce clutter in storage areas and other secluded places.
  • Be cautious when going into dark, warm, and secluded locations within or around your home.  These spiders love crawl spaces, the underside of decks, and piles of brush.
  • Be cautious when turning anything over in your yard. Consider wearing gloves if you'll be working in the yard.

If you see black widows on your property, and you're in our extensive service area, let the team here at Action Pest Control help. We help home and business owners get rid of black widow spiders. And spiders are one of the pests your technician will look for during a routine inspection if you choose to sign up for year-round pest control.

For more information, or to set up a service, reach out to us today. While black widows aren't necessarily dangerous, it is better when they're not around.

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