The Big Mistake You Don't Want To Make When Dealing With Black Widow Spiders

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Arachnophobia is one of the most common fears, but unless you're dealing with a poisonous spider, there really isn't a reason to fear them. Of course, this doesn't stop people from screaming when they find them in their homes and crushing them with the nearest shoe. The problem is, if the spider is a female black widow, your shoe method could backfire. These venomous spiders bite when threatened. They're also very fast, so if one manages to survive the shoe, it may quickly bite your hand in self-defense.

By the way, if you've never seen a female black widow spider beyond a photo, these critters are about 1.5 inches long and highly venomous. The National Capital Poison Center says one bite could result in a number of reactions, ranging from muscle cramps to trouble breathing and even death (albeit rare). Some people experience "such extreme pain that it's mistaken for appendicitis or a heart attack," the center notes. The males are brown or gray, smaller, and much less dangerous. In fact, only female black widows bite. 

So, if ever you encounter a female black widow, there are ways to kill it without squishing it and putting yourself at risk. A couple of methods involve items you likely already have in your home.

How to safely kill a black widow spider in your home

Most people would prefer not to share their homes with spiders, especially black widows. You just have to be cautious about the elimination approach for your own safety. The closer your skin is to the spider when you try to kill it, the greater the risk of getting bitten becomes. To eliminate the risk, use a spray bottle filled with white vinegar and water; the acid will kill the spider. There are also various sprays you can use, including Raid Spider and Scorpion Killer and TERRO Spider Killer Aerosol.

No bug spray or spray bottle handy? Use your broom or vacuum cleaner instead. You can use the nozzle attachment to suck up the spider, which will likely kill it. Just be sure to empty the vacuum into a bag and throw it away. And if you want more than just a dead (or dying) spider in the vacuum, consider vacuuming a carpeted room or two to gather more debris for the bag.

Remember, avoid killing a black widow with a shoe since your attempt may be unsuccessful, promoting the spider to defend itself by running after you or biting. And whichever method you do use, avoid getting close enough to the spider for it to bite you.