Black Widow Population Booming In Kansas

By: Parrish Alleman Email
By: Parrish Alleman Email

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

What used to be a rare sight in Kansas are now every where. Local exterminators say they see more and more black widows every year.

Last summer, Kristofor Sauer says his children found a very creepy crawler in their sandbox.

"They picked up one of the toys and came in and were like 'Dad, Dad we found a spider. We found a spider,'” Kristofor Sauer said.

The spider turned out to be a female black widow which are considered the most venomous spiders in North America.

Up until then, Sauer says he had never found a black widow near his home. But by the end of the summer, he had found six.

"Three in one day," Sauer said.

Exterminator Gerry Marsh says over the last few years, the local black widow population has boomed.

"It used to be a pretty big deal to see a black widow. If we'd see one we'd bring it in and show the guys. But now it's a pretty common occurrence. We come across them daily,” Gerry Marsh of Patton Termite and Pest said.

Marsh says one reason is the mild winters we've had the last few years. The spiders are surviving the winter and reproducing in the spring. The bad news is he says the blizzards we had this year weren't enough to wipe them out.

"I think we've had a few cold days but it really hasn't been an extended period of time so I think we'll see a big insurgence here in a few months,” Marsh said.

As summer gets closer, Kristofer Sauer says he'll be keeping a close eye on the spots he knows black widows like to hide and he's already warned his children to come get him if they see any thing that looks like this.

Gerry Marsh says you'll most likely find black widows outside, it's rare they'll try to get inside your home.

But he says they do love clutter. So if you have wood or junk piles outside or a lot of stuff piled up in your garage, you might want to clean those up.

Male and female black widows look very different. The females are the dangerous ones and are normally shiny black with a red hourglass marking on the underside of the abdomen.

The black widow's venom has been reported to be 15 times stronger than a rattlesnake.

A black widow bite can cause muscle aches, nausea, and can make breathing difficult. Although, fatalities are rare. The spiders are non-aggressive and only bite in self defense.


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