Can the Bite of a Black Widow Spider Kill You?

We know Black Widow from the Marvel Cinematic universe is a lethal as she is beautiful, but does the same go for the spider she’s named for?

The black widow spider, or Latrodectus hesperus, is one of three venomous spiders in found in the United States.

This shiny, black member of the arachnid family is most often identified by the yellow or red-orange hour glass shape on it’s stomach.

While a bite from any spider is unpleasant, a bite from a venomous spider is even more so, but can it kill you?

Image Credit: iStock

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, black widow spiders are one of the deadliest spiders in the world, with around 2,600 spider bites being reported to the U.S. National Poison Data System each year.

National Geographic reports their venom is up to 15 times stronger than a rattlesnake’s!

Image Credit: Unsplash

However, bites from the venomous black are rarely fatal, according to the Mayo Clinic.

One study on black widow spider toxicity found that in 23,409 cases of exposure to black widow venom, only 1.4 percent of patients had life-threatening symptoms.

Still, black widow bites can make a person seriously ill.

Small children and the elderly are more vulnerable to the venom of a black widow, and even a healthy adult can suffer from conditions arising from the bite, like an allergic reaction, difficulty breathing, or tetanus.

Image Credit: iStock

While it is unlikely that the bite of a black widow will kill you, there is a good chance you’ll experience some unpleasant side effects.

These effects can include: pain and throbbing at the bite site, swelling, muscle contractions, abdominal pain, a quickened heart rate, nausea, breaking out into a sweat, or chills.

If you believe you’ve been bitten by a black widow and are experiencing the symptoms indicated above, it is best to visit a medical provider. Doctors can prescribe medications for managing the side effects of the bite, or administer an antivenin if necessary.

The good news is, black widow spiders are not known to attack humans. In fact, they want to avoid you as much as you want to avoid them.

Black widows prefer to hide if they sense a predator, play dead, or even spray their attacker with their silk thread as an act of defense!

Image Credit: iStock

The best wait to avoid getting bitten by a black widow is to be aware of your surroundings.

Black widows are most likely to nest in dark, undisturbed areas, like woodpiles, garages, sheds, and even under flower pots.

Be careful in these areas and make sure to wear long sleeve shirts, long pants, and gloves when working outside.

Just make sure you turn those gloves upside down to empty out any unwelcome visitors before you put them on. Do the same with shoes.

Image Credit: iStock

As unpleasant as the black widow spider bite sounds, it is rarely fatal, and thanks to modern medicine, those who are suffering from side effects can be given treatment to help manage their symptoms.

Remember, black widows are more afraid of you than you are of them. By being mindful of your surroundings, you can lower your chance of ever having to find out first hand just how unpleasant their bite can be.

Do you have first hand experience with spider bites? Tell us all about it in the comments!