Most Dangerous Spider in North America: the Black Widow

Part of the Latrodectus genus of arachnids, the Black Widow Spider is the most venomous spider in North America.

Found in most temperate climates, this paper clip sized spider delivers a powerful bite, 17 times more powerful than a rattle snake bite! Effects include muscle aches, and nausea. Bites also cause a paralysis of the diaphragm, leading to difficult breathing. But, bites are not commonly fatal as many think. Most do not die from bites. However, bites can be fatal in some instances. The elderly, infirm and very young are the most susceptible to the effects of Black Widow bites.

Fortunately, Black Widow Spiders are usually docile and do not attack without provocation.

Those most in danger of attack from Black Widows are insects and male Black Widows. Female Black Widows devour their mates after they have completed the mating ritual! This bizarre and grisly behavior is how Black Widows got their name.

What to do if bitten by a Black Widow

  • First, clean the area of the bite with soap and water.
  • Next, apply a cool compress to the bite, keeping the area elevated to about heart level if possible.
  • Third, apply a mild antiseptic. Bites are susceptible to infection, but an application of iodine or hydrogen peroxide may help prevent this from occurring.
  • Attempting to suck out the poison has been proven ineffective.
  • ¬†Make sure to contact your physician ASAP! A doctor can administer a drip of¬†calcium gluconate to counteract the effects of the poison.