EEK! A black widow!

Yipes…just had a helluva scare. In the doorway to my garage, where I pass many times every day, a black waidow had streched her web, abtout knee level. Thank heaven my hunny saw her! (And stomped her pretty and nasty ass into the ground) She was hanging belly up, so her bright belly was unmistakable.

I know we have black widows in the San Fernando Valley, but I always count on the fact that they are very shy. But now I’m completely creeped out. If Chris hadn’t seen her, sure as hell I would have walked right into her. And this is very distressing.

So…what do we do now? Bomb the garage for just in case? Get therapy to deal with my nascent phobia?

And has anyone here ever been bitten? I’ve heard it is excrutiating beyond description, for days. Anyone know the scoop?

This is a non-smoking area. If we see you smoking, we will assume you are on fire and act accordingly.

All you can really do is keep your garage clean all the time, or just be careful. They like hiding in dark places usually (up here in Monterey county I often see them in gopher holes and other burrows). Watch where you reach is your best bet. I’ve seen them many time and fortunately had the smarts to not get bitten. Oh and also be wary of the Brown Recluse spider they can also inflict an excruciatingly painful bite also.

‘The beginning calls for courage; the end demands care’

Where do experts stand on the lethality issue? I figure it’s probably blown out of proportion.

I’ve read a 50-50 chance of killing a small child. This makes for an amazingly unpleasant experience for an adult.

Actually, I was at the zoo last week and I saw several black widows. The sign said that with “modern day” antibiotics, it is virtually unheard of to die from a black widow bite. So quit worrying!

On a side note, they had a display of “bullet ants” that freaked me out. Seems these little beauties have a bite that’s 30 times more painful than a bee sting. How they figure out gradients of pain is beyond me, but it made me glad that I don’t live in the jungle. Yikes.

One of the deadliest spiders in the world is the Australian Redback, which is a direct relation to the Black Widow (as is the New Zealand Katipo).

Though I guess having an anti-venom doesn’t negate their lethality, just their victim count.

“Waheeey! ‘Duck!’ Get it?”
“Errr… No…”
“Duck! Sounds almost exactly like fu-”

Omigod, Stoidela, I would have dropped dead on the spot, and then my skeleton would have leaped out of my body and run screaming down the street like an “Itchy and Scratchy” cartoon!

My sister has moved to tarantula country and I’m visiting her this winter . . . I will have to scotch-tape my skeleton to the inside of my body, I guess.

Stoidela, don’t worry too much. She probably won’t kill you.

When I was in college, I shared a rather decrepit house with 2 friends and (as we found out) a number of black widow spiders. The spiders took a particular liking to one of my roomates - she got bitten regularly. No one else ever got bitten (as far as we knew; of course, she may have been the only one who was sensitive to the venom).

She knew she’d been bitten because the lymph nodes around the bite area would swell up and get painful. When this happened, we would mosey over to the nearest critical care facility and she’d go in and get a shot. The staff didn’t consider this an immediate threat to her life.

I’d certainly be more careful if I had kids, though. Just keep sweeping down the webs, and keep the garage clean, like Doobieous suggested, and they’ll find some slob college students (like I was :slight_smile: ) to shack up with.

The Cat In The Hat

Stoidela: Hope this answers some of your questions –

My granny got bitten by a black widow many, many years ago. She said she was laid up in bed for a week.
It must be like snake bites–I’ve heard of a few people who got bitten by snakes and refused to get medical assistance and survived the ordeal.

Black Widow spiders are potentially lethal, you should get medical attention for a bite. Kids are really susceptible.

Having lived in the California desert for many years, I learned to make sure that I looked before I reached, since mostly they put webs where you can’t see (behind and under things). The web, by the way, characteristically is a haphazard mess, that doesn’t resemble the neat web pattern one sometimes sees in a garden.

As for tarantulas, they are harmless things unless you happen to be tremendously allergic to them. Don’t let them bother you. :slight_smile:

Reminds me, InCorrect: ‘Im afraid of spiders’
Correct: ‘I made myself afraid of spiders.’

education cures afraidness.

USA only has two poisonous spiders, one you know the other is the brown recluse…

Well, thank you all for the education, especially the links. Now I’m completely freaked out.

Handy: Normally, while I don’t want to pick them up and bond with them, I’m very spider-positive. As long as they aren’t in the way, I prefer to leave them be because they are good things. I learned to be that way when I got into gardening. BW’s is a whole 'nother kettle 'o fish.

I read that they dig old clothes in sotrage, piles of boxes, hidden areas, firewood. Well, guess what my garage is full of??? ALL of the above. Yipes! Bomb time. I also have a shed out back by the pool where we keep pool stuff. Also filled with cobwebs. Bomb time.

What I’ve been reading backs up what I already knew: if I get bit, it probably won’t kill me, but it would be a deeply unpleasant experience, to put it mildly.

I’m trying to look upon this event (seeing her stretched right across the doorway) as a wakeup call and not a portent of future doom. It was nature’s way of informing me that I probably have a garage full of venomous spiders and that in future I must use caution when moving around out there. And probably BOMB!!

I keep hearing about this dang brown recluse…what the hell does it look like? At least with BW’s they are easy to ID.

This is a non-smoking area. If we see you smoking, we will assume you are on fire and act accordingly.

Brown recluse spiders are… well, brown. They have a marking on them that looks sort of like a fiddle, but I don’t remember right now if that’s on the top or bottom side of their bodies.

As you might guess from the name, they’re fairly shy and retiring. They don’t normally go out hunting for people to bite; most people who get bit do so because they’ve put a part of their body in something that a brown recluse thought would be a nice place to hide… like a pair of boots in your closet that you haven’t worn in a while, or even a sleeve.

Getting bit by one is not likely to kill an adult. Their venom, however, does cause severe tissue necrosis, which is a polite way of saying that chunks of your flesh near the bite area turn black and fall off. I have seen pictures of this, and it’s even worse than you’re imagining.

I once attended a seminar given by someone who studied them in considerable depth (which is where I saw the pictures). He used to annoy his department chairman by showing a picture of a “brown recluse habitat”… a shot of their chemistry building.

omniscientnot to the rescue. Well, sorta…

S.: you said you were completely freaked out, but I thought I discerned an itsy bitsy( :)) part of you that wasn’t…

That should do the trick. If not, just give me a shout. We aim to please.

Flora said:

That is a priceless image. Thanks for the laugh!

Re: OP, I suggest you keep a bottle of Tilex or some other nasty cleaner handy. A few quick squirts and she’ll die a nasty death…

::ducking and preparing for all the spider lovers to come out of the woodworks…just like the snake lovers did:: :slight_smile:

Some mornings it just doesn’t seem worth it to gnaw through the leather straps.

I remember seeing a TV report about black widows. In it they said that the black widow antivenin could only be administered once in a person’s lifetime; to try and inject it again after a subsequent bite would be lethal. They also said some people had refused the antivenin because of that fact. But maybe they’ve come up with something that’s ‘multiply effective.’ I dunno.

BTW, one woman said the pain was much worse than childbirth.

I’m glad I live in Minnesota. We flash-freeze our creepy crawlies once a year.

Thank you omniscientnot for the swell link ! The illustration is a little misleading, though…the abdomen is exaggerated, it’s not quite that balloony looking… and the legs are more extended; a big recluse is about the size of a 50 cent piece, the circumference around the legs. They are very shy, and do not jump up and bite you, mostly freeze (easy to whomp) and then try to run. Out here in the southern woods, we gotta lotta them. My husband has been bitten , and, while it was swollen and “itchy” painful, we treated it with echinacea, the Native American traditional herbal remedy. I am reporting this as anectdotal because much depends on where you’ve been bitten, and the quality of herbal extract used in treatment, but by using strong, good quality echinacea, as well as other herbs to help the liver process toxins, the bites healed with no tissue necrosis. This was done after consulting with our(openminded) physician, who was amazed that there was no damage. Again, I would’t advise this to someone who wasn’t an experienced herbalist, but just to show that it isn’t a horrible death sentence. An innerrestin’ aside is that back in days of yore, recluse bites were often suffered by folks visiting the outhouse at night… OUCH!!!

Just thought I’d share my personal spider experience.

When I was a kid I had no fear of spiders what-so-ever. Nor was there any reason to be afraid since I live in scandinavia where there aren’t any spiders that can hurt you anymore than a mosquito bite. I used to catch and/or kill them with my bare hands whenever my sister let out a window-shattering scream from the next room.

That was then.

When I was about 13 I had two freak-me-out incidents with spiders within a one month period.

The first one happened at a classmate’s birthday party. He got one of those palm-sized brown tarantula-esque spiders as a present and everyone was daring each other to hold it. Beeing a weak-minded teenager put under even the tiniest hint of peer pressure I agreed, picked it up and placed it on my palm.

It bit me.

It wasn’t really poisonous and my “wound” was no worse than a bee sting, but I don’t care who you are, when a godzilla sized spider bites you - you freak out. I must have flung that spider 15 feet across the room right into a wall.

If you ever feel the need to fling a spider into a wall, you should know that they don’t bounce… not even a little. When it hit the wall it dropped straight down behind a bookcase of some kind and it took about 15 minutes before we had it back safe in it’s terrarium.

I got the last laugh though. The spider died a few days later… and I didn’t. I did get two giant spider toothmarks in my hand though… and that’s pretty darn cool when you’re 13.

A few weeks later what I assume is a completely unrelated spider freaked me out again.

I was home alone that morning and had just taken a shower so I got my newly washed bathrobe that was hung out to dry in the garden and put it on. You know how you sometimes get the feeling like something is creeping around on your skin? Well, I now know that spiders feel exactly like that. At first you think it’s “just that feeling” but when you see a big black spider crawl out of your robe over your chest you never quite think of it as “just that feeling” ever again.

This particular spider had a body about half an inch long, and was about 2 inches including the legs. By swedish standards that’s a pretty f-ing big spider.

Anyway, I ripped that robe off as fast as I could, threw it on the floor and ran naked to the other side of the house, limbs flailing about frantically. I stood there for a while trying to calm down when I suddenly got “that feeling” again, something was creeping up my arm. I looked but there was nothing there. Then I feel something on my leg. Again nothing. Then I got the feeling on my back, in my hair… and at this point I started to calm down, “It’s just my imagination”. So I calmly (well…) went over to a mirror to make a thorough examination and as I stand there, the spider comes creeping up from my back over my shoulder and onto my neck.

Its evil master plan was ofcourse to enter my mouth and lay a thousand eggs in my stomach so that it’s young could devour me from the inside, and when they were grown I would explode in a myriad of spiders.

Fortunately, I killed it before that.

I killed it good.

To this day I have never seen anything that small spread over such a large area.

Nowadays spiders kind of creep me out, not in a “Eeek, a spider!” way , but more like “Kill, Kill, KILL!”. I don’t touch them with my bare hands anymore though, I wimp out and get some toilet paper. Or preferably a nice heavy college textbook, that way I can take out my aggressions on two things at once.

I’m not really that upset about this. I actually find it kind of comforting because this is the only aspect of my personality I can actually attribute to a specific childhood emotional trauma.

Besides it’s one of the few decent real life stories I have.

“This is a non-smoking area. If we see you smoking, we will assume you are on fire and act accordingly.”

This is a smoking area. If we see you not smoking, we will assume you are unlit and act accordingly. :slight_smile:

Sorry. On to the subject;
When I was about 18, I was cleaning and repairing a used stove in my mom’s back yard. I spied a Black Widow under the burners and dispached it with a screwdriver. A few minutes later the screwdriver slipped and cut the palm of my hand. Within a short time I hallucinated, had convulsions, and passed out. Shortly, when I came to, I had a headache, a very painful wound, and slight difficulty breathing. I was ok in a few days, but the incident scared the crap out of my poor mother.

Work like you don’t need the money…
Love like you’ve never been hurt…
Dance like nobody’s watching! …(Paraphrased)