The brown widow spider (Latrodectus geometricus) is native to South Africa, but has been found in Brazil in recent years. She is also known as a gray widow in some places; very poisonous, they are “shy” spiders, which rarely bite humans. When they do, they don't inject all the poison, meaning they're not that dangerous. Read this article to learn how to identify the brown widow spider and what to do if you are bitten by one.
Method 1 of 3: Identifying the Brown Widow Spider
Step 1. Analyze the color of the spider
It will have a mottled or mottled brown, bronze and gray coloration. Some may have white or black markings on the back.
Step 2. Find the mark of an hourglass
Like black widows, brown widows have a very distinct hourglass mark on the lower abdomen. However, it will have a bright yellow or orange color.
Step 3. See if there are black beeches on the paws
The front pair will be longer than the rest.
Step 4. Analyze the size of the spider
Females will be 2, 5 to 3, 8 cm long, including the paws, while males will be 1, 2 to 1, 8 cm long.
Step 5. Find round, thorny egg sacs (ootheca)
Brown widows are similar to some species of black widows; the coloration can make them even more difficult to distinguish from other spiders. By knowing what the egg bags are like, it will be possible to identify them more accurately. Analyze the following aspects:
- Size of 1.2 cm.
- Yellowish, bronze or ivory color.
- The shape is round and with spines.
- Eggs stay in the web.
Step 6. Observe the brown widow's webs
This species makes webs different from the “traditional” ones, which look like lace; rather, they are “weavers,” with several layers rather than one.
Method 2 of 3: Recognizing Brown Widow Habitats
Step 1. Find out where brown widows can be found in Brazil
Despite not being prevalent in the country, they inhabit South America and practically the entire national territory, being increasingly common in Brazil; there are reports that they were found in the following states:
- Minas Gerais.
- São Paulo.
Step 2. Brown widows prefer secluded locations
Like other spiders, they look for dark spots with little movement, such as woody areas; however, they can also be found in urban areas and around the house and yard. The places below are good habitats for this species:
- Around the garden, even under railings and inside empty flowerpots.
- Inside closets, basements and attics, in boxes and under cables and door handles.
- Around the house, especially under roof eaves and behind shutters.
- Under furniture, both indoors and backyards.
- Inside folds of clothes and sheets.
- Inside shoes.
Step 3. Brown widows come out of hiding and are active during all four seasons:
spring, summer, autumn and winter.
Method 3 of 3: Treating Brown Widow Bites
Step 1. Know how to identify the bite of spiders of this species
Fortunately, they can't inject much venom, unlike other types of spiders; therefore, their sting is almost never serious. Here's what to expect after a bite from a brown widow:
- A little pain or burning.
- A small red mark in place of the sting.
Step 2. Determine when you need to go to the hospital
Sometimes the body reacts more intensely to the spider's bite; when suffering from any of the symptoms below, seek medical treatment as soon as possible:
- Difficulty breathing or staying conscious.
- Cramps or muscle tremors.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Severe pains.
- Infection at the attacked site, with the presence of skin rash, pus or ulcerations.
Step 3. Take care of the bite by cleaning and applying an ice pack
Clean it with soap and hot water, rinsing it well. Also lift the chopped limb, if possible, and place an ice pack on the spot; a cloth soaked in ice water is also an alternative to a compress. By washing the bite, the victim will be protected against infections and will keep the place cooler, preventing it from swelling too much.
Step 4. Use over-the-counter medications
Spider bites can cause discomfort and itchiness, as can the brown widow. After suffering the bite, the following remedies are recommended:
- Acetaminophen, ibuprofen or an antihistamine.
- You can also use an anesthetic or anti-itch spray. Choose one that has benzocaine to reduce pain and itching.
- When the bite turns red and itchy constantly, use a cream that fights the itching, such as hydrocortisone or calamine.
- It is recommended to wear gloves and shake shoes or clothing that has been stored in the attic or basement before putting them on or bringing them indoors. Otherwise, you might end up giving the brown widow access too.
- Be very careful if there are children around. Don't let them touch or get close to anything that might be the perfect place for these spiders to hide.
- Brown widows can be found in unexpected places, such as under the folds of potted plants and under mailboxes.
- Caulk windows and door frames, and install window screens. This will protect you from spiders.
- Using pesticides to attack infestations can be a good way to go. Still, read the product instructions, especially if you have pets at home. Pesticides can be quite dangerous for them.
- Keep the house and garden clean. When cleaning, pay special attention to the corners and undersides of furniture. The cleaner they are, the less attractive the house will become to spiders.