Here’s What Happens To Your Body When You Get Bitten By A Black Widow Spider

SYDNEY, NSW - JANUARY 23: A Redback Spider is pictured at the Australian Reptile Park January 23, 2006 in Sydney, Australia. The Redback, probably Australia's best-known deadly spider is found all over Australia and is a close relative of the Black Widow Spider from the U.S. Only the female Redback is considered dangerous, with their venom containing neurotoxins, which works very slowly. Fatalities, even from untreated bites, are rare. Australia is home to some of the most deadly and poisonous animals on earth. (Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images)

Black widow spiders are easily recognizable. They’re plump, black, and shiny, with an hourglass-shaped, red mark on their abdomens. Sometimes, this red mark may take a slightly different shape. In other cases, the spider may have red markings on its back too.

This type of spider gets its name from its mating behavior. After mating, the females typically kill and then eat their male partners, leaving them as “widows.”

These spiders aren’t aggressive and only bite when they feel threatened. The bites usually aren’t fatal, but they can still cause some serious and uncomfortable symptoms.

If a black widow spider has bitten you, get medical treatment right away.

Black widow spiders are reclusive and not aggressive. They’ll never seek you out to bite you. Instead, they only bite in self-defense or when they feel threatened.

Black widow spiders live in dark, hidden spots, such as in piles of rocks, leaves, or wood.

These spiders might also hide in a variety of other dark places, such as:

inside your shoes, especially if they’re stored somewhere dark

in piles of unused blankets

in the crevices of porch furniture

between stones in a rock wall


You’ll usually feel the sensation of a minor pinprick when a black widow spider first bites you. You might not realize that you’ve been bitten at first unless you caught the spider in the act. In some cases, the bite might be painful right away.

Symptoms may vary for each individual.

Local pain, redness, burning and swelling at bite site (Some may have minimal pain from the bite itself)

Abdominal pain (pain can be similar to appendicitis) and localized or generalized muscle cramps (stomach, shoulders and back)



Rash and itching


Eyelid swelling

Salivation, tearing of the eyes

Weakness, tremors or paralysis (especially in the legs)

Nausea and/or vomiting

Dizziness and/or fainting

Chest pain (similar to a heart attack)

Respiratory difficulties may follow

High blood pressure

What should I do if a black widow spider bites me?

If you believe you have been bitten by a black widow spider:

Get medical help immediately. Call your doctor, hospital, or poison control center.

Remain calm. Too much excitement or movement will increase the flow of venom into the blood.

Apply ice to the bite area.

Do not apply a tourniquet. It may cause more harm than benefit.

Try to positively identify the spider or catch it to confirm its type.

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