1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Help, please. Black widows taking over my home with 7 month old baby and cat!

Discussion in 'True Spiders & Other Arachnids' started by honeybee, Jul 6, 2013.

  1. honeybee

    honeybee Arachnopeon

    I understand this website is for people who keep invertebrates as pets and my request for help is not in keeping with that spirit. However, I figure you guys know the most about black widows and how to handle them safely.

    I live in a town home apartment in central California, where we have always had black widows on the patio. Within the last week or so we have seen an explosion of black widow spiderlings *inside* my apartment. I've counted about 30 webs and verified over 15 black widow spiderlings. Last night I smooshed about 6.

    I have a 7 month old daughter who is just beginning to learn how to crawl and use the pincer grasp. This means she pulls up everything's she finds on the carpet and puts it in her mouth. I also have a cat that loves to paw and eat bugs. Top it all off with the fact I am living with my boyfriend who was bitten by a black widow when he was two years old and ended up in the hospital for several weeks. His skin peeled and everything.

    This is my only family and I am sick to my stomach that they are all so vulnerable to these widows. I have a hard time sleeping at night. Every night I go hunting for them but there are just so many! I believe an egg sac or two have hatched inside the building. We also have a TON of stuff that I've organized on wall to wall bookcases and storage shelves. There are a million hiding spots.

    I'm also reluctant to use pest control sprays because I don't know how effective they really are against widows and the chemicals may be just as bad or worse than a bite (cancer, nervous system impacts, etc)

    We are looking for a new apartment to move into but not sure if we can find one that fits our budget abdication needs. If we do find one, I plan to wipe down and vacuum everything we own. Should I also use my other steamer to heat treat our belongings?

    If it were you how would you proceed? I am sick with worry and could use all the advice you have! TIA.
  2. DannyH

    DannyH Arachnobaron

    • Like Like x 1
  3. zonbonzovi

    zonbonzovi Creeping beneath you Staff Member

    Copious vacuuming and minimizing hiding spots. They are relatively easy to trap as they're clumsy outside of their web. I wonder if instead you may have a Steatoda sp. which looks very similar and is more prone to living indoors.
    • Like Like x 5
  4. The Snark

    The Snark هرج و مرج مهندس Old Timer

    If I may take your comment one step further. Carefully take each room apart and vacuum your heart out. The spiderlings are experts at finding nooks and crannies to hide in. On the bright side they are pretty easy to vacuum up. Just be diligent and repeat the inspections regularly, looking for the tell tale extraordinarily strong web lines. As for hiding, I once removed a number of fully adult widows from inside a stereo system. So don't assume anything is spider free. Inside a TV would be a nice place. Or inside a kitchen appliance. As I said, just be diligent.

    As for why there are so many, it happens. A natural ballooning phenomenon. And as for spraying with insecticides as advocated by the pest control people. the only assured way of near 100% kill is to get a powerful insecticide wetting the body of a latro. Just spraying around their hides is no assurance they will die. IE, the spray is going to be more of a hazard to your and yours than the spiders by the time you dump enough of the crud in your house to be marginally effective.

    The above applies to steatoda as well.
    • Like Like x 2
  5. Ciphor

    Ciphor Arachnoprince

    I agree, could be false black widows. Could also be Erigoninae (dwarf spiders), small and black, and sometimes people mistake them for baby black widows.

    Can you by chance post any pictures?

    Black widow spiderlings are not all black, they have heavy patterns and sometimes no black at all like the western widow http://bugguide.net/node/view/359833/bgimage

    False black widows (Steatoda spp.) are dark with light markings that develop more as they mature. http://bugguide.net/node/view/343799/bgimage

    Dwarf spiders are often all black or very dark and as adults they look like spiderlings http://bugguide.net/node/view/172610/bgimage
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2013
    • Like Like x 2
  6. honeybee

    honeybee Arachnopeon

    Thank you all for your responses. It's possible they are not true black widows but I have looked at a lot of photos online and YouTube videos. These are bulbous, hang upside down in fibrous messy cobwebs. Some cobwebs make a crackle sound when I clear them and they are strong. Others aren't as strong and break more easily. They are light/white/tan colored with some black modulations. One (under the stairs) even has a funnel in the Web leading to its hiding spot in the carpet fibers. We are currently out of town to celebrate my father in law's birthday and will be back on Monday. I'll take pictures and post them then.

    I appreciate the comments about the chemical sprays not being sufficient. Makes me feel better about not having them spray right away.

    I'll try to post updates as we handle the situation. I'll probably bug you for more advice as we go along.
  7. Smokehound714

    Smokehound714 Arachnoking Active Member

    Im guessing they're brown widows, which are extirpating the western black widow from much of southern california, due to their huge brood sizes, and the fact that both mactans and geometricus can hybridize. In fact, I can usually only find L. mactans in wilderness areas, or away from houses nowadays.

    steatoda and parasteatoda webs are far more delicate than a widow's webbing, which is very tough.
  8. honeybee

    honeybee Arachnopeon

    IMG_00000477_edit.jpg IMG_00000478.jpg IMG_00000477_edit.jpg IMG_00000478.jpg

    Here are two pictures of one of the spiders under the bottom stair. This one was right next to the kitty litter. Shortly after taking the pictures, it ran under the carpet for cover so I couldn't see if there was an hourglass or not. But it is obvious these things are getting older and no longer gray/white.

    Update: I apologize for not getting back to the board until now. So much has happened recently. We have decided to move out as the spiders are in the most awkward places and I can't get to them with a vacuum or stick or anything. We researched the chemical sprays and I just don't believe they are effective unless you get the spider directly and they are bad for our cat and now 8 month old baby.

    I have managed to find and kill four more. And you are right, once they are out of the web (and in the vacuum) they are pretty clumsy. I have been able to dump out the bagless canister of the vacuum onto the pavement and they just lie there in the dust with their legs wiggling in the air. Then I smoosh them.

    I am trying to vacuum and search every object before we transfer it to the new place. These things still make my knees shake when I think about what they can do to my family. I'm sorry, but I can conceptually understand why you would keep one as a pet but I don't really get it.
  9. Could you provide us with a top view of the spider?
    • Like Like x 1
  10. cerialkiller

    cerialkiller Arachnosquire

    Make sure to pull all drawers and check any appliances with any voids and nooks and crannies as so you don't take the spiders with you
    • Like Like x 1
  11. Bongo Fury

    Bongo Fury ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Arachnosupporter

    Chances are good that whatever type of spider it is won't do anything to your family. Also, there is a 100% chance that there will be spiders in your new home as well, they are just a fact of life. Knowing how to recognize the very few genera in your area that can cause harm will go further towards reducing your stress than packing up and moving ever will. I would be more concerned about the health effects of Toxoplasma gondii on my family, rather than a few harmless Steatoda.

    As far as keeping them, the reason you don't "get it" is because you are still under the false notion that spider = bad.
    • Like Like x 3
  12. Ciphor

    Ciphor Arachnoprince

    That spider is a Steatoda grossa - False Black Widow. Where these guys exist, seldom do real widows as S. grossa will prey on them quite easily. It is a pretty common spider inside and outside of homes. Widows are far more common outside of homes and don't like to live in small crawl spaces like these guys do.

    The legs are far to short for a widow, if you were wondering how I can rule it out.
    • Like Like x 2
  13. Gnat

    Gnat Arachnoknight

    please, stop feeding the trolls
  14. How is this a troll? They asked for advice, provided info, supplied a few pics as requested, and even a Mod responded. None of the posters so far have 'smelled a troll' except you.

    I still would like to see more, better pics of these spiders, tho. Not that I am disagreeing with IDs given so far.
    • Like Like x 3
  15. Ciphor

    Ciphor Arachnoprince

    Trust me, that is 100% a false black widow. I've seen hundreds of them indoors, and they love to make webs in spots like this, hanging on the web exactly like that. As a mater of fact I'd say that picture is a perfect representation of what you would expect from Steatoda grossa indoors.

    Just as a comparison of the two by leg length and girth (widows have huge thick femurs especially on leg pair l & lV)

    Upside down L. hesperus http://bugguide.net/node/view/348916/bgimage
    Upside down S. grossa http://bugguide.net/node/view/78857/bgimage
    • Like Like x 1
  16. honeybee

    honeybee Arachnopeon

    I am sorry, I don't have a top view photo of the spider. It was very quick to hide. I managed to vacuum it up and can post the under side of it when it is dusty before I squashed it. It's web was incredibly tough. I had to use the hose extension and use that to break it as the web would be sucked up by the vacuum alone. There were also three egg sacs. One appeared to be vacant. The other one definitely had eggs. The third I believe had eggs but I lost it in the vacuum.

    I don't think I am being a troll. Admittedly, I'm not using the site for engaging in conversation about keeping these spiders as pets. But I come here out of respect for the knowledge and expertise that spider owners have.

    Generally, I don't think spiders are bad. I believe they serve an important function. I hate killing insects and will catch and release whenever I can. The exception is black widows. I have a lot of respect and fear for what they can do. My daughter's father ended up in the hospital over a bite and I have a crawling 8 month old daughter who loves practicing her pincer grasp to pick up everything she can and putting it in her mouth. I can very much see her picking up a black widow and putting one in her mouth. I have no way of communicating to her to not stick her hands in webs.

    Also, some responders seem to believe that these spiders probably aren't black widows because they are indoors. But before I witness the population explosion of these spiders, I had recently spent an hour sweeping up leaves off our bqck patio and pulling weeds, etc. I saw many spiders that appeared to be black widows. It is very possible I brought one or more in to the apartment with me. Also, that same week, we brought in a crib from storage that was used by extended family. It's possible the crib was harboring black widows as well.

    The photos that you guys are linking to are interesting and helpful. Based on the photo of the steatoda grossa on Wikipedia, I would say, that is NOT what I am dealing with. I'm trying to get a better picture of at least one of the spiders in my apartment. Had I realized that someone wanted a picture of the top of the spider, I would have tried to get one before I got rid of it.

    Oh and one last thing before I post a picture of the underside of the one I caught last night...my city (Bakersfield, CA) does have a ton of true black widows. The in laws have them on both sides of their front door right now and they clearly have the red hourglass, jet black bodies, and tough webs, etc.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2013
  17. honeybee

    honeybee Arachnopeon

    Underside of spider I caught last night and smooshed photo

    IMG_00000503.jpg IMG_00000502.jpg

    Here is the spider after I caught it in the vacuum so it is very dusty. I also included the after smoosh photo incase there is some characteristic that you see of it that helps to identify them.

    Thanks again for all of your feedback and help!
  18. Ciphor

    Ciphor Arachnoprince

    Seem to believe? .... And "You would say" they are "NOT" false black widows... based on "Wikipedia" pictures? O.K.... For someone asking for expert help, you sure seem to have a nice way of saying we don't know what were talking about.

    Honestly you came to a good place, but if you want to believe they are black widows, nothing will convince you otherwise. From reading your post you are looking for ways to make the spiders black widows regardless of if they are or are not.

    That is a Steatoda grossa. Let me repeat it so I am being clear THE SPIDER IN YOUR PICTURE IS A STEATODA GROSSA - FALSE BLACK WIDOW

    They are called the false black widow for a reason, laymen (that means YOU honeybee) cannot tell the difference between them and real widows.

    I will give you a few more things to think about, from what you said above.

    1) the web is "tough". In relation to what? How many other spider webs have you compared it too? If you ask me, I'd get rid of the notion that you can ID a spider by web toughness unless you have felt a lot of webs.

    2) You said you may have brought some possible widows inside? Possibly, but that doesn't change the fact that the photo you provided is not a widow, its a false black widow. It's body position, web placement, web design, and anatomical features all tell the story. As an educated individual on these species I can spot all these subtle differences. Trust the expertise you seek if you seek it, otherwise, what are you really doing here?

    3) Based on a photo on the interest means nothing in the world of entomology. Spiders are variable. A single species can have over 10 different color forms. So while one Steatoda grossa is very purple with white triangles on its behind, another can be jet black all over, and another can be jet black with a white crescent.

    dark with white cresent: http://bugguide.net/node/view/742299/bgimage
    all maroon: http://bugguide.net/node/view/702929/bgimage
    maroon with white triangles: http://bugguide.net/node/view/232823/bgimage
    black with white triangles: http://bugguide.net/node/view/361346/bgimage
    all black with lighter colored legs: http://bugguide.net/node/view/292597/bgimage
    all black with black legs: http://bugguide.net/node/view/193090/bgimage

    This is just adult females, they change colors and appearance as they mature, so young look different then old. Males look different then females, can you tell the difference between a male, female, and immature juvenile?

    Bottom Line Honeybee, did you come here to debate the spider's identity with people who have kept them and studied for years, or did you come here to ask experts what your spider is? You better figure that out first, because I can tell you right now, no one here will debate an ID with someone who doesn't know anything outside of what they googled in 10 minutes of research. Compared to 10 years of research, your 10 minutes just doesn't match up well and is frankly quite offensive!
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2013
    • Like Like x 1
  19. Now y'all know why I didn't offer an ID. I could not see enough detail in the first pics provided, hence the reason I asked for dorsal pics.

    Not getting caught up in the unfolding drama, so I am gracefully bowing out.
  20. Ciphor

    Ciphor Arachnoprince

    I just think it's offensive to ask for help, then when someone takes time out of their day and gives it, to question it and turn it down based on what you googled.

    I can see enough detail from the first pics provided, hence why I ID'd it. ^_~ I've looked at hundreds and hundreds. The second I saw that picture I knew right away exactly what it was.