Friday, June 5, 2009

Black Widows

Last year we ran across two copperheads on our property. Now whenever I walk about on the property, I'm on alert for snakes. Thankfully, it's been ages since we've seen any signs of them.

Just as I'm about to relax, Rudy finds black widow spiders. Here she is along with a sack of eggs. These have all met their maker. Rudy and I hate to kill anything, but these spiders are almost always deadly to cats. We love, love, love our cats. They are our children.


Take a look at chubby little Cindy Lou lounging on the porch. How could anyone not adore her?

I browsed the web hoping to learn more about black widows and hopefully, find some safe ways to get rid of them. We don't use pesticides.

I learned black widows are nocturnal, preferring the cool and darkness to daylight. They come out at night to hang in their webs and feed. Turning on outdoor lights at night attracts bugs and these bugs are what widows like to eat. Keep the lights off at night or get yellow lights, which don't attract bugs.

Widows spend the day in dark places. They hide under boxes, cabinets, garbage cans, wood piles, rocks, outdoor furniture, water meters, etc. It's best to keep these things far away from your house.

You can identify the black widow's web if you look closely. They are small webs with a thick 'den' in the center usually very close to the ground. The female spiders will hide inside the den during the daytime, emerging at night to sit in the center of their webs. Once you see one, you will be able to identify them. Anyway, if you see this web, the spider is nearby.

Smash (don't spray) the spider. If you kill one, be absolutely sure to destroy the egg as well.

A number of things are recommended for getting rid of them. The most successful seems to be to go hunting for them at night with a flashlight. If you locate one, use a stick to squish it against the side of it's hiding place and then do your best to remove the hiding place altogether so no more take it's place.
The suggestion I plan to try is to attract more wrens to our yard. Wrens eat black widows. I plan to get a few wren houses this week! The houses are supposed to be put out by mid-March, so they may stay empty this year. Wrens are also wonderful for keeping pests at bay in your garden. For more information on attracting wrens to your yard, click here or here and definitely click here.

Other things were suggested like vinegar, eucalyptus and sticky fly paper traps.

This was the best advice site I found on getting rid of Black Widows: How to Get Rid of Black Widows - The column on the right had lots of good "Natural" suggestions.

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