Black widow spiders are hard to avoid if you live in Arizona. Their iconic black body with the red hourglass shape brightly emblazoned on their bulbous abdomen make them instantly recognizable. They are one of the most dangerous spiders you can come across in this huge desert, and they don’t always stay outside where they belong. They are a year-round threat, so it’s very lucky we have the warm winters we do, which allow some of them to tough out the colder weather without needing to seek shelter inside our homes. However, even those that remain outside will seek areas that are more protected from the elements to spin their webs, and others will go so far as to sneak inside our homes to find that protection.
While it may be frightening to learn that black widows do seek shelter inside some homes for the winter, there are ways you can detect their presence before you find yourself face to face with one of these deadly arachnids. Black widows tend to stay away from heavily populated areas of a home, so you need to be most watchful for them in attics, crawl spaces, storage buildings, and other spots humans don’t often hang around that also have plenty of insects to catch for dinner. You want to be especially watchful in garages, near the back of your kitchen pantry, and any other places with lower levels of human traffic. Keep in mind to be careful unpacking any seasonal clothing or equipment such as Christmas decorations.
You can also determine if you have a black widow guest by looking at their webs. They tend to spin very messy-looking webs as opposed to the circular symmetrical webs built by most spiders. They basically look like a web built by one very drunk spider at a holiday party; very stringy, veering off in all different directions, and much larger than a spider their size would seem to need. The web’s spider is likely hiding at the very outside edge of the webbing or in a dark corner close by, but you may also come across a brave one dangling upside down from the web. Thankfully, they are easy to spot in this last case.
Have you ever come across a black widow in your house?