October 17, 2019
Northern Vs. Southern: Which Widow Is Worse?
Did you know there are many varieties of the “widow” spider? The black widow, the brown widow, northern, southern, and western widows. If you are like most people, you are familiar with the southern black widow and may have thought that was the only species of widow spider. There are many similarities between the species, but a few subtle differences that set them apart. We’ll take a closer look at the northern vs. southern black widow to try to determine which one is a worse threat to South Carolina homeowners.
Visual Similarities and Differences
Traditionally we identify female black widow spiders by the distinctive red hourglass marking on their abdomens. While not all female black widows have this marking, it's common and easy to identify on those that do. The southern black widow has a complete hourglass marking, while the northern has a "broken" hourglass with the thinner middle section often being disconnected or has a series of red dots. Both species of widow spiders are similar in size with the females being larger than the males. Males are typically brown and have white markings on them.
Behavioral Similarities and Differences
For the most part, northern and southern black widow spiders don't have behavioral differences. They cast webs that are erratic and stringy to catch their prey, unlike the well-constructed typical web pattern we see with other spiders. Outdoors they live in tree stumps, stone walls, woodpiles, and rodent burrows. Indoors they live in outhouses, garages, sheds and other undisturbed sheltered places.
Location Similarities and Differences
The names of the northern and southern black widow can be a bit deceiving. Northern black widow spiders are found in eastern states from northern Florida up through southern Canada. However, they are primarily located throughout the northeastern states. Southern black widows are found in the southeast but have been seen as far north as Ohio. Unfortunately, for those of us in South Carolina, we are in an overlapping area that has both species!
Keeping Widows out with Professional Pest Control
In the end, it’s hard to say if one species is "worse" when it comes to northern and southern widow spiders. Both can be a nuisance and indicate more significant pest problems around your South Carolina property. While not overly aggressive, they will bite if they feel threatened, and both have a venomous bite that can be painful. In rare cases, untreated black widow bites can be life-threatening.
With a year-round service plan from Aiken Pest Control, your Aiken, SC area home will be protected from both northern and southern black widow spiders and other pests. We perform an initial inspection and service, quarterly treatments, and additional treatments between visits at no cost if pests are giving you a problem. Contact us today to keep your South Carolina home black widow free!