What to do when you spot a black widow spider - Toledo News Now, Breaking News, Weather, Sports, Toledo

How to spot a black widow

It's the most dangerous spider in America; it's venom 20 times stronger than that of a rattlesnake....the black widow.

A new case study of a patient who died after being bitten by a black widow spider has been published in Dimensions of Critical Care Nursing. It urges greater attention to the seriousness of the spider's venom and the need for rapid detection. Jules Sylvester, Hollywood's go-to guy for all things creepy and crawly, shares what you need to know to avoid the black widow's bite.

"If I go to any house anywhere in the USA, I can probably find some of these guys, especially in the southern states," says Sylvester.

Sylvester was the spider trainer on the 1990 blockbuster Arachnophobia. Black widows may be smaller than the spiders in that movie, but they're no less dangerous.

"[With] a classic black widow bite, you don't feel the pain. You may feel a slight sting," he says. "You'll feel like you've got the worst case of flu – aches, pains, vomiting. Go to the emergency and get it taken care of."

To spot one of these dangerous spiders, Sylvester says that the first thing you look at is the body shape. Black widows are round, shiny and black. The other thing that is very obvious for all black widows is the underbelly, which shows a bright red hourglass shape. They live in a hole, and make a very scruffy web without a distinguishable pattern.

Here's what you should do to keep black widows out of your house:

  • Install tight-fitting screens on windows and doors
  • Seal or caulk crevices where spiders can enter the house
  • Install yellow or sodium vapor lights, which attract less insects that spiders feed on
  • Have an exterminator spray around your home's perimeter at least three times a year

And Jules' most important piece of takeaway advice: If you get bitten by a black widow, or even if you think there's a chance you were, don't hesitate. Go to the hospital and have it checked as soon as possible.

Another prevention tip: Don't store cardboard boxes in your house, especially under the bed….black widows love them.

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