Black Widow spiders are found throughout North America, especially in the southern and western United States. Mature females are black and shiny, with a distinctive red hourglass marking on the underside of the abdomen. Immature spiders and males may be lighter or duller, or may lack the red marking. Black Widows can be found in crevices and undisturbed ares such as woodpiles, rock piles, under eaves, on fences, in outbuildings and in areas where debris has accumulated.
In many cases, the bite of the Black Widow may cause nothing more than pain and swelling, and you may be able to see two small holes where the spider's fangs have pierced the skin. Individual reaction to spider venom varies, and sometimes spiders may "dry bite" to irritate an intruder without wasting venom. In serious cases severe symptoms will start to appear within 30 to 60 minutes. These include muscle cramps and spasms, vomiting, severe high blood pressure, stupor or shock.
Intermountain Health Care offers these tips for what to do in a case of Black Widow spider bite:
- Get medical help immediately. Call your doctor, hospital, or poison control center. The number for Utah Poison Control is 1-800-222-1222.
- Remain calm. Too much excitement or movement will increase the flow of venom into the blood.
- Apply ice to the bite area.
- Do not apply a tourniquet. It may cause more harm than benefit.
- Try to positively identify the spider or catch it to confirm its type.