29 Jun 06/29/2022
You would likely be hard-pressed to find someone who has never heard of a black widow spider. They are well-known for their striking appearance and are the most venomous spider found in North America.
The females’ distinctive red marks make black widows one of the most recognized spiders.
Female black widows are hazardous and have the potential to inject a toxic venom that is roughly 15 times more lethal than a rattlesnake’s venom. Thankfully, these spiders are smaller than snakes, which means they carry less venom.
As seasonal temperatures increase in April and May, outdoor jobs begin ramping up. And once temperatures reach 70 degrees, black widows become more active, and their mating season kicks off. Staying protected is essential if one has any concerns these dangerous creators are nearby. This article highlights what you should know to protect yourself around black widow spiders—from their natural habitats to some common questions involving how to stay safe at work if your job puts you close to this eight-legged hazard.
The southern black widow spider is easily identified by its characteristic shiny black body and striking red or orange hourglass-shaped marking on the underside of the abdomen.
The northern black widow features spots down its upper surface and two crosswise bars. Its shape is more round, measuring roughly 1.5 inches in length. Male black widow spiders are roughly one-half the size of females.
Where do black widow spiders live? They prefer dry, rarely disturbed, dimly lit, or dark locations. In North America, black widow spiders are located mainly in the south and west; however, species have been found across all 50 states.
Black widows are known to construct their webs in dark corners of homes or sheltered areas of buildings. These spiders prefer to set their messy webs in areas that offer more potential shelter for their prey. This makes basements, closets, garages, and sheds ideal homes for black widows. In cooler climates, these spiders will search for locations that will remain warm and dark during cold winter months, such as hot pipes found under a house.
Though its name is infamous throughout the world, the black widow’s reputation as the most venomous spider has been exaggerated. The most dangerous spiders in the world are the Australian funnel-web spider and the Brazilian wandering spider. However, the black widow is the most venomous spider in North America. Here are some exciting details about black widows to help differentiate between fact and fiction.
A black widow bite will often have a sensation like a pinprick and is identifiable by the two puncture marks left on the skin. However, don’t let that quick poke feeling fool you. Black widow venom affects the human nervous system and can have deadly consequences for those with severe reactions, though the severity varies from person to person. Directly after being bitten, you may feel pain at the site of the bite, followed by redness or swelling. More intense reactions can include nausea, muscle aches, or difficulty breathing.
WebMD highlights all the typical symptoms of a black widow bite. Here are the most common:
A Visual Aid for Different Types of Insect Bites
If you have any reason to believe you’ve been bitten by a black widow spider, immediately call 911. It’s also important to remember that black widow bites can be fatal in young children and the elderly due to the type of venom found in black widows. You’ll want to take these victims to the emergency room right away.
The good news is that these spiders generally only bite if disturbed or surprised. Bites are likely to occur when people directly contact their webs. Our next section highlights the most common work-related places where these critters are found.
For the most part, black widows quietly coexist near people with little contact or danger. However, when individuals begin operating in areas where these spiders make their home, there is cause for concern. What’s most troubling is that few people consider black widows a potential hazard that workers may encounter. There are several common areas where black widows like to hang out that workers often visit.
Here is a list of areas where these spiders like to live and the workers who may be affected when they operate in these places:
In addition to the above list, the following areas are also popular homes for black widows: fire piles, woodpiles, and under loose bark.
If it’s a dark area, be on guard.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides insight into the protection workers should consider wearing if poisonous spiders are a potential hazard. Here are some suggestions for personal protective equipment (PPE) that might be worn when working around potential spider dangers:
Fully coated gloves with protection up the arms is an ideal form of protection, like the CP14R.
Another way to protect against spider bite dangers is to always inspect work areas for spiders or spider webs before beginning any work. Always assume there is a possibility that black widow spiders will be present. Be extremely careful when reaching into quiet, dark spaces or cleaning areas where things have been stored undisturbed for lengthy periods. Never put your hands into spider webs, and never underestimate the hiding places where these spiders could appear.
What to do when you find a black widow spider?
What does a male black widow spider look like?
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How to get rid of black widow spiders in my yard?
Black widows can pose a severe threat to anyone who primarily works outdoors or in dark areas. Unfortunately, employers often overlook this danger, so arm yourself with the knowledge you need to keep yourself safe. And consider wearing MCR Safety PPE to shield your body from these venomous pests!
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