How can you kill black widow spiders? Strong scents, vinegar, your vacuum cleaner, and pesticides are among the ways you can get rid of this feared spider.
Black widow spiders are more venomous than a rattlesnake and are considered one of the worst insects in the U.S. Species of this shiny black spider can be found everywhere in the United States and North America, but black widows are most common in warmer climates throughout the South. No matter where you live, we’ll show you how to get rid of black widows inside and outside of your home.
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You can fend off or kill black widows just by using items you likely already have around your house.
Black widows are rumored to dislike lemon, eucalyptus, tea tree oil, and peppermint because they have a very good sense of smell. They smell through their feet, and by dispersing these powerful scents, black widows will stay away.
How to make this spider repellent: All you need is a spray bottle, water, essential oil and a dab of dish soap for your DIY spider spray.
Spray this on window ledges, baseboards, corners, and beneath furniture. Liberally spray around all points of entry, including doors, windows, or around plumbing fixtures connected to the outside.
Bonus: Although this spray functions as a black widow deterrent, your DIY spray doubles as an air freshener, as well. You can buy the supplies at most grocery stores or online at places like Amazon.
Note: Avoid using essential oils around pets or pet areas, as they can be toxic to your furry friend.
Vinegar is a black widow killer. Vinegar’s acidity will burn a spider’s body on contact.
How to make this black widow spray: Combine equal parts vinegar and water, and spray directly on the black widow. If you come across an egg sac, spray liberally on all sides.
Note: You can add essential oils to help with the strong vinegar odor. When diluted and handled responsibly, some essential oils are safe to use around pets and kids. A few examples are lavender, rosemary, and chamomile essential oils.
Because spiders rely on their webs for food and shelter, removing webs is your first defense in warding off black widows and other spiders.
Vacuum high and low to remove any spider webs; pay attention to hiding places such as corners and dark areas beneath furniture. Target egg sacs carefully, and then safely discard everything in the vacuum cleaner’s canister.
Note: Be mindful that the mother black widow rarely leaves her web, so she is likely to attack out of fear.
If homemade black widow spider control options aren’t doing the job, there are plenty of store-bought options to get rid of these pests.
Chemical insecticides to kill black widows come in dusting or liquid options. Dusts are good for places humans won’t disturb, such as basements, crawl spaces, and window sills. Liquids are well suited to other areas, including known webs. Insecticides will kill any present spiders and prevent new ones.
Oil-based pesticides, including pyrethrin, are best for targeting egg sacs. When you locate an egg sac, apply the pyrethrin liberally, coating all sides if possible. The pesticide kills black widows and discourages others from moving into your home, garage, or attic.
Here are two products that will control black widows around your home:
Wettable powder or microencapsulated (“slow-release”) formulations are best.
Removing flies, moths, grasshoppers, and earwigs will reduce spiders’ food sources. Putting out traps for these pests will naturally reduce the likelihood that a black widow will choose to build her web nearby.
Kinds of insect traps: You can purchase insect traps like bug zappers, sticky traps, or disposable fly traps to send black widows out for lunch.
DIY Traps: The University of Florida offers these tips on homemade pest traps .
Black widows move into your house and take up residence in dark, often little-used spaces such as the basement, attic, garage, crawl space, and shed.
Once black widows are in your home’s dark and little-used areas, here’s how to evict these unwelcome houseguests:
Apply a DIY chemical spray, store-bought insecticide, or pesticide wherever you have seen or fear black widows may be living in your basement or attic. Vacuum any webs you see.
Pro Tip: After you’ve spotted signs of black widows by day, go downstairs (or upstairs to your attic) at night to apply your spider killers. Black widows are most active following sunset, so you’re more likely to have success.
Cold weather and drought drive spiders indoors, so you may see seasonal increases in black widows in garages and crawl spaces.
Apply black widow killers frequently and vacuum window frames, corners, and beneath furniture.
Pro Tip: Sealing points of entry is the simplest way to keep spiders out. Install door sweeps, seal window openings, and repair screens. Look for openings at ground level that can be caulked or otherwise closed.
Discouraging black widows from moving onto your property is the best way to keep these arachnids outside your home. It also makes your backyard space safer and more enjoyable for whatever you like to do outside.
To deter black widows on your yard and property, take these three measures:
Outside lights attract moths and flies, so keep the lights off to keep away a black widow’s food supply.
Note: Switch outdoor lights from incandescent to yellow or sodium vapor bulbs, as these are less attractive to flying insects.
Wrens find black widows pretty tasty, so attracting these birds is a natural spider control. Install nest boxes and fill them with bread crumbs, peanut butter, or apple slices. However, keep in mind that feeding wildlife can cause other issues.
Similar to essential oils, spiders dislike pungent plants. Lemon balm, lavender, mint, and lemongrass are great options. Plant these powerful plants near the garage, basement, and house doors to help keep black widows from entering your buildings.
What to do if a black widow bites you: The Mayo Clinic advises that you wash the bite area and apply an ice pack. Then seek medical attention.
Typically, black widow bites don’t hurt at first, but once symptoms set in, the neurotoxin can cause serious complications. Nausea, pain, and difficulty breathing will develop a few hours after the bite.
Female black widows bite only in self-defense, and their bites are rarely fatal. They are not aggressive and will attack only out of fear. Black widows bite to protect themselves from perceived danger, which is sure to be the case if you’re caught disturbing her web.
Black widows, while known to have red hourglass markings on the abdomen, may have several colored dots or no markings at all.
While many spiders you find around your home make delicate webs with a consistent pattern, a black widow spider’s nest is made of strong threads and has an irregular shape.
Black widow spiders are fond of dark corners where spider webs will be left undisturbed. They are most often found in basements, attics, closets, and crawl spaces and on the underside of furniture.
Outside your home, black widows usually make their homes in woodpiles, crevices, or small holes already in your yard.
Black widows’ primary diet is insects, such as flies, ants, and other spiders. They have been known to trap and devour small vertebrates like snakes, lizards, and scorpions.
With poor eyesight, black widows rarely leave their webs and rely on vibrations reaching them across their web to locate prey and other disturbances. Keep this in mind when confronted with black widows invading your space because they usually only bite when provoked.
How Do You Keep Black Widow Spiders Away?
Sealing points of entry is the simplest way to keep spiders out. Install door sweeps, seal window openings, and repair screens. Look for openings at ground level that can be caulked or otherwise closed. Strong scents found in essential oils and vinegar are natural repellents, or you can use a pesticide to keep them at bay.
Can I Use Essential Oils as a Black Widow Repellent?
Black widows smell through their feet, and by dispersing diluted essential oils like lemon, eucalyptus, tea tree oil, and peppermint, the taste on their toes will send them running. Use caution with essential oils as they can cause allergic reactions and be harmful to pets.
If your pet shows symptoms of poisoning by essential oils or liquid potpourri, immediately call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline (800-213-6680), a 24/7 animal poison control center.
Why are They Called Black Widow Spiders?
Notorious for killing their mates, the term “black widow” encompasses 31 Latrodectus species that exhibit this ritual.
How Do You Treat a Black Widow Spider Bite?
Female black widows are venomous spiders. The Mayo Clinic advises that you wash the area of the bite with mild soap and water and apply an ice pack. Then seek medical treatment. Typically, black widow bites don’t hurt at first, but once symptoms set in, the neurotoxin can cause serious problems.
Call a pest control service near you if you have black widows – or any spiders – in your home. Pest control professionals have specialized products and equipment to attack large and hard-to-reach spider infestations.
Main image credit: Konrad Summers from Santa Clarita (Valencia), California / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA
Alison is a Midwesterner through and through, and loves to spend her time baking and reading. Always at home in the dirt, as a kid, Alison raised a vegetable garden with her dad, and flower gardens with her mom.