WESTMINSTER, Colo. (KDVR) — The iconic black widow spider calls Colorado home, but the record-wet weather this summer means you may be seeing them more around your neighborhood.
“When you have increases in moisture, you usually have increases in insect populations,” said Sara Stevens, director of animal collections at the Butterfly Pavilion. “So they’re most likely thriving more due to the abundance of prey items more so than the weather itself.”
Stevens said black widows are mealworm beetle specialists but also eat any sort of insect and are great at pest management.
“Black widows can be really beneficial for helping to mitigate that around the house,” Stevens said. “Especially because most of the time they’re outside. They’re pretty shy spiders. They really don’t want to come into our homes and interact with us too much. They like to find nice quiet spaces and they’re sort of couch potatoes. They make a really kind of lazy web and they stay in that web. They don’t do a ton of traveling unless they absolutely have to.”
While black widow venom has been known to be fatal, Stevens said there has not been a death from a black widow bite in the U.S. since 1983.
“Usually even the amount of bites within a year are fairly minimal across the entirety of the United States,” Stevens said. “It’s usually less than a couple thousand, and the ones that have complications that would require hospitalization are usually less than 28 a year. So black widows do get this really bad rap.”
Stevens recommends capturing these spiders in containers if they are in an undesirable location in your house and releasing them in a space outside where they can feed and thrive.