Banner Good Samaritan Poison & Drug Information Center  

Black Widow Spiders

Black Widow Photo courtesy of the Phoenix Zoo


The mature female black widow:

  • large, black, shiny body
  • measures approximately 3/8 inch long
  • one inch legs
  • An hour-glass shape of bright red or orange-red color can be found on her abdomen
  • Black widow spider webs are very irregular, white in color and strong. They are most often found in areas where eater and insects are readily available.
  • Webs can be found under outdoor furniture, barbecue grills, pool pumps, storage areas and corners of porches and patios.

Bite Symptoms

The initial bite may feel like a pin prick, which may go unnoticed.

  • First, victims experience little or no visible signs of the bite such as swelling
  • A red circular mark may appear about six hours after the bite.
  • Initial symptoms may be progressive aching sensations
  • There may be muscle pain at the bite site spreading to the abdomen,lower back, thighs and limbs.
  • Symptoms last as long as 36 hours and lingering effects may last for several weeks.


Call the Banner Good Samaritan Poison and Drug Information Center immediately at 1-800-222-1222 to determine whether the bite victim can be cared for at home or will require treatment by a physician or hospitalization. Severe cases may require antivenom treatment.


  • The Black Widow is shy. She hides near the web by day typically in some sort of sheltered spot and is most active at night where she waits on her web for prey to enter.
  • She does not hunt for prey 
  • Inspect your yard for the irregular white webs.
  • To control the black widow population find the webs at night using a flashlight and spray her directly with a strong insecticide and destroy all egg sacs.
  • The egg sacs are small round white balls that contain hundreds of baby spiders.
  • Wear gloves when handling firewood, lumber, and rocks (be sure to inspect the gloves for spiders before putting them on). 


  • There are many labeled pesticides for spider control. Some are labeled for homeowner use, while others are labeled only for the licensed, certified pesticide applicator.
  • Spray the insecticide directly on the black widow.
Banner Good Samaritan
Poison and Drug Information Center
24-hour phone: 1-800-222-1222
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