Jul 182011

Pest Control of Tampa: Black Widow SpiderThere are only two main types of venomous spiders found in Florida, widows and recluses.  However, the widows are the only ones native to Florida.

Widow Spiders 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 spider. Also, clothing should be checked before wearing–especially if unused for a considerable time–as a spider may have taken up residence within it.

Pest Control of Tampa: Black Widow Spiders

Three species of widow spiders are native to Florida, and a fourth species has been introduced.

Southern Black Widow: Most common of the native widow spiders. It is the epitome of the classic widow spider, occurring in all the normal widow spider 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.  The Northern Black Widow has only been reported from the Florida panhandle. Its web is a large tangled mass which is generally found at the tip of a low tree branch.

Red Widow: Has a black abdomen with a single flattened red triangle on the underside. On the back are rows of red spots, each surrounded by a yellow circle. The head region and legs of the Red Widow are red-orange in color. This species is endemic to Florida. It occurs in sandpine scrub from Marion County to Martin County. The web of the Red Widow begins as a typical tangle web in the interior of a small palm or palmetto, but then continues as a sheet of silk onto one of the lateral open leaves.

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 eggsac if it is present. Brown Widow eggsacs resemble a sandspur and are tan, spherical, and have many small tufts of silk sticking out from them, while the other widows make white, smooth eggsacs tending to be pear-shaped.

The Brown Widow tends to be extremely timid and has rarely been reported to bite. However, it is an introduced species and is the most human-adapted of the species occurring in Florida. 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 spider 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.

You can get more information on black widows as well as other spiders of concern in Florida by going to the Florida DPI site here.

For all of your spider and other pest control solutions call Pest Control of Tampa!




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