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SpidersPhoto of Black Widow Spider

Black Widow Spider (approx. 1/2" long) Jet black and shiny, a black widow spider usually has a distinctive red mark or marks under the abdomen. It makes an irregular web in dark places such as foundations, air vents, shrubs and woodpiles, often at ground level. Black widows are one of the poisonous spiders found in North America and occur in all 48 states from Mexico to Canada.

  • The black widow spider is widely feared because its bite results in severe pain that may take several days to subside. Such bites are rarely fatal but small children and elderly persons are at risk.
  • This spider is uniformly shiny black in color and has a large spherical abdomen. The key identifying character is the red hourglass-shaped mark on the underside of her abdomen.
  • Bites most frequently occur when people are picking up an item under which the spider is hiding or put on a shoe into the spider has crawled. Many bites are reported in outhouses where the black widow likes to spin her web below the toilet seat. (Be sure to check carefully before sitting down!)
  • Bites can be avoided by wearing heavy gloves when moving items stored for long periods outside, in garages, in basements, or in warehouses. Shoes should be stored inside shoe boxes or shaken vigorously prior to wearing. When webs are visible, inspect carefully before putting your hand down under an object.
  • Black widows prefer to construct their webs in secluded, protected sites where insects are more likely to show up. Such sites are common in items stored haphazardly in garages or outside. Such clutter creates innumerable spaces suitable for spider harborages. Keeping boxes and objects stored neatly and away from ways is one step to minimize these spiders in or around a home.
  • Control is best left to a professional company like Terminix. If numerous spiders are encountered, they can be removed using a shop vac, but care must be taken when opening the vacuum to kill the spiders.

Photo of Brown Recluse Spider
Brown Recluse Spider
(approx. 1/2" long) Light brown or gray brown, with a violin shaped mark on its back, this spider is often called the "fiddle backed" spider. It lives like a recluse in a small web in dark corners, running to hide when disturbed. The bite usually results in an ulcerous sore, that may become serious if bacterial infection occurs because of lack of medical attention.

  • The brown recluse spider is often called the "violin" spider or "fiddleback" spider because of the distinctive fiddle-shaped marking on top of its cephalothorax (head end to which the legs are attached). A further identifying character is the fact that this spider has only six eyes, instead of eight, and these are arranged in three pairs of two eyes at the front of the head.
  • This spider is feared because its bite can result in open, ulcerating sores. Left untreated, such bites often become infected and significant tissue necrosis can occur. It is always best if someone thinks they may have a spider bite that he or she seek medical attention, preferably from a dermatologist. This is especially true in areas where brown recluse spiders are common.
  • Like most spiders, the brown recluse spider does not seek to bite people... the bite is usually accidental. The spider crawls into a shoe, into clothing or into a bed and a person then puts on the clothing or lies on the spider in bed. The spider being trapped has only one defense and that is to bite. Unfortunately, the bite of this spider produces a nasty result in people.
  • If a home has experienced brown recluse spiders, the occupants can reduce the chances of a bites by following the recommendations below:
  1. Clothing can be stored in sealed plastic bags inside drawers or inside plastic storage compartments hanging in closets. Shoes should be stored inside plastic shoe boxes.
  2. Clothes which have been left on the floor, in a clothing basket, or are otherwise exposed should always be shaken well and inspected before putting them on. Avoid keeping clothing on floors.
  3. Beds should be moved out so they do not touch walls or curtains. Bed skirts around the box springs of beds should be removed from beds, and bedspreads that come near or touch the floor should not be used. These items allow spiders easy access to climb onto the bed.
  4. Persons living in infested homes should get into the habit of inspecting bedding prior to climbing in to go to sleep.
  • To minimize infestations of brown recluse spiders, these recommendations should be followed:
  1. All boxes stored in an attic, basement, and the garage will need to be inspected for spiders. This is an extremely important step in controlling the brown recluse spiders because boxes are a very attractive harborage for this spider.
  2. Boxes should always be moved from attics and basements to a garage or outside to be inspected. It is easier to inspect boxes there, and if a spider manages to crawl out of the box, it will be easier to deal with in a garage or outside. Any person moving or going through boxes should wear long sleeves and gloves to avoid accidental bites. A vacuum device should be kept handy to quickly remove spiders as they are encountered.
  3. All items in a box need to be removed and opened or unfolded to check for spiders. After careful examination, the items can be replaced in the old, now spider free box or into a new box.
  4. All corners and cracks of boxes should be taped to prevent spiders from re-entering the box.
  5. Straighten up clutter in a basement and the garage. Do not store any items in a crawlspace. Brown recluse spiders like to harbor in clutter. Straightening or removing items reduces the potential harborages for spiders as well as for the insects they prey upon.
  6. New infestations will generally come from the exterior of the building. All items lying on the ground, such as piles of lumber and other debris, should be removed from the property.
  7. Firewood piles should be moved as far from a home as possible and stored off the ground and covered with plastic to keep it dry.
  8. Heavy vegetation such as ivy and other ground covers should be cut as least 18 inches away from the building foundation.
  9. Branches of trees and shrubs touching the house should be cut back away from the roof and walls of the building.
  10. Brown recluse spiders and their prey are more likely to live in poorly ventilated attics and crawlspaces. Installing numerous soffit vents, together with ridge vents, make the best ventilating systems for attics. The roof areas above small enclosed porches, carports, and breezeways also would benefit from installation of ventilation. Foundation vents installed one per 25 linear feet of building foundation are necessary for ventilating crawlspace areas.
  11. Any crack in the exterior of a building through which spiders could enter should be sealed to prevent spiders from entering . These cracks should be sealed AFTER they are treated by your Terminix service professional. It is especially important to seal the cracks located under the eaves where the soffit area meets the wall. Brown recluse spiders generally enter the attic through these cracks. Foundation vents and soffit vents should be tight fitting and be equipped with screening.
  12. Buildings with brick veneer often have weep holes to allow moisture to exit from behind the veneer. These weep holes cannot be sealed, but small pieces of screening can be inserted into the weep holes to prevent spiders and other pests from entering. Screens designed for this purpose may be available commercially.
  13. It is also important to seal cracks around pipes, wires, and cables leading up into the structure from the crawlspace or basement and down from the attic. Also seal cracks around vents and light fixtures in the ceiling. These steps help prevent spiders from entering from the attic, crawlspace, or basement.
  • Total elimination of brown recluse spiders from an infested home is often impossible, especially in older homes. Still, the numbers of spiders seen and encountered can be minimized greatly when the right procedures are employed. Such services are best left to the experience of a professional company like Terminix.
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