Black widow spiders are long-legged, glossy, coal-colored spiders with the distinctive orange, red or yellow shape found on their underside that looks similar to an hourglass but may be another shape. Female black widows are about 1.5 inch long and they are smaller than the males. An adult female black widow has a shiny, black body with a bulbous abdomen. An immature black widow has the same body type and carries the same venom.
Male black widow spiders ranges from orange or yellow in color and grows only half the size of the females and delivers only small amount of venom. The black widow is similar to the steatoda spiders also known as the “false black widow”. The steatoda have a similar body type but they lack the distinctive markings of the black widow spider.
Black widow spiders can be found in low-lying webs in barbecue grills, garages, close to swimming pools and also in piles of woods. This spider is usually present in the urban and rural areas and cases of bites happen occur during the months of April and October when their webs are disturbed.
Individuals bitten by the black widow spider cannot feel the initial bite and the affected area becomes pale within a few minutes, sometimes surrounded by a red-colored ring. After a few hours, the person will experience muscle cramps that will spread all over the body.
Symptoms of a black widow spider bite
- There is minimal to sharp pain along with swelling and redness at the site of the bite.
- Presence of one or two fang marks that looks similar to tiny red spots and sometimes the severe symptoms manifest within 30-60 minutes such as muscle cramps that begins near the bite site and spreads. It becomes worse after 6-12 hours in which the individual will experience chills, fever, nausea, vomiting, severe headache, back or chest pain, loss of consciousness, restlessness or shock and high blood pressure.
Treatment and home remedies
Once an individual sustained a black widow spider bite, immediate first aid care is vital. If you want to be ready to manage a bite from this spider, click here.
- Wash the bite site thoroughly with soap and running water.
- Apply a cold compress on the bitten area or an ice pack. Make sure that it is wrapped in a towel or cloth and place over the affected area.
- Elevate the bite site and avoid moving the area in order to prevent the spread of the venom throughout the body.
- Apply a mild antiseptic solution on the affected area in order to prevent infection.
- Take over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help minimize pain.
- Seek medical help after delivering the first aid treatment so that proper assessment and treatment can be provided.