Black Widows

Q: Yesterday, I found a male black widow hanging out on our back door. (I confirmed this with a friend who is a doctor at Perdue University doing something with insects – sadly, don’t know her super professional title).

My friend suggested strongly that we have the house and yard sprayed just in case, since the kids do a lot of playing out there and will continue to over the summer. I checked out normal exterminator sites but my husband suggested I check with you real quick and see if you had any other or additional advice.

A:Black Widows are a common spider in our area but like to stay hidden so most of us don’t know that we work and play around them daily. For the most part they never present a problem to people since they are not aggressive spiders.

If you find that you have a problem with them you need to eliminate places suitable for them to live and reproduce. Since Black Widows like dark undisturbed places to hide they look for debris piles, wood or rock piles (including stone walls), or areas where objects are stored close together. Closets, attics and garages are areas in buildings where they frequently find suitable quarters.

Using contact insecticides to spray or dust surfaces that you want to protect can reduce their population but must be applied frequently to maintain the protection. These sprays set up a barrier where applied and work by poisoning the insects if they crawl across it or by simply deterring them. Space sprays work by filling an area with toxic fumes but they don’t work outside as the spiders in hiding usually will be protected from the low concentration of fumes that can be attained in open areas.
-Ken Thompson

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