These spiders aren't aggressive and only bite when they feel threatened. The bites usually aren't fatal, but they can still cause some serious and uncomfortable symptoms. If a black widow spider has bitten you, get medical treatment right away. This spider type is found throughout the world.
Black widow spiders are easily recognizable. They’re plump, black, and shiny, with an hourglass-shaped, red mark on their abdomens. Sometimes, this red mark may take a slightly different shape. In other cases, the spider may have red markings on its back too.
This type of spider gets its name from its mating behavior. After mating, the females typically kill and then eat their male partners, leaving them as “widows.”
What Are the Symptoms of Black Widow Spider Venom Poisoning?
You’ll usually feel the sensation of a minor pinprick when a black widow spider first bites you. You might not realize that you’ve been bitten at first unless you caught the spider in the act. In some cases, the bite might be painful right away.
The area around the bite will likely redden and begin to swell.
You’ll develop more serious symptoms within a few hours of the bite. Sometimes, the more serious symptoms can develop in as little as 15 minutes after the bite occurs. Most commonly, you’ll experience pain that’s not limited to the bite location. Your chest and abdomen, in particular, will be painful. The muscles in these areas will cramp and go rigid due to severe muscle spasms. Your back and shoulders may also hurt.
Other signs and symptoms you might experience include:
difficulty breathing, which is due to paralysis of the diaphragm
a severe increase in blood pressure
a headache, which may be partially due to a change in blood pressure
In rare and extreme cases, black widow spider venom poisoning may lead to seizures and even death. Death generally doesn’t occur in healthy adults. Young people, the elderly, and those with weakened immune symptoms are more susceptible to serious complications and death from a black widow spider bite.
Regardless, anyone who has been bitten, or who suspects they’ve been bitten by a black widow spider, should seek medical treatment immediately.