ABQ Mom’s War on Black Widows :: I Didn’t Want Her Fanging Around!


Warning, not for the fainting or squeamish types . . . Nasty pictures of black widows included below . . . Proceed at your own risk, and don’t say I didn’t warn you!

It’s that time of year again. And, I do NOT mean the time for afternoon monsoons, hot air balloons in the mornings, or the smell of green chile roasting in the grocery store parking lot.

It’s creepy spider time!

The other day, my son came running in from the backyard yelling, “There’s a black widow on the fence.”  The kids hadn’t played in the backyard for a few weeks because of our crazy schedule with school, sports, and other events. It was possible there might be some new webs.

I grabbed the spider spray and followed him outside. I looked at the area where he had pointed. There was a web. There was also a little brown spider, not quite the black widow he had claimed. I went ahead and sprayed it (mostly to appease him). As I did, a big, fat black widow dropped down onto the web. You better believe I started spraying with more excitement after that!

We watched together as the spider fell and stopped moving.

Since I already had the spray out, I decided to take a little tour around the yard. I saw more webs, but no more spiders. Whew!

Later that night, my daughter remembered that she had left her sparkly high heels outside and asked me to go get them for her. (Don’t even ask me why they were there because I don’t know why six-year-olds do even half the dumb stuff they do.)  As I shined my flashlight around the backyard looking for sparkly high heels. . .

I found so much more than I bargained for.

Spiders! In every single web I had seen earlier that day, plus a few more.  There was even a great, nasty one RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF MY BABY’S COZY COUPE TRUCK LEG SPACE.

Black Widow on Child's Toy
Oh, No You Didn’t!

I rushed back inside, completely terrified, and so thankful that the kids had made mud pies in the yard instead of playing with the toys. I whispered with my husband about what I had seen and asked him to go help me in the backyard after the kids were in bed.

Around 9pm, we found ourselves decked out with spider spray, three flashlights, and a camera (so I could prove that I’m not afraid of spiders).

Black Widow Hunters, Albuquerque Mom's Blog
Black Widow Hunters

We killed the first black widow on our back porch in a flower pot. We felt pretty confident after that . . . until we proceeded to the next flower pot and found an entire web, covered in tiny, clearish-yellowish-orangish, baby spiders.  I’m pretty sure a black widow sac had just recently hatched. CREEPY!

We found six more black widows, including the BIG one in my baby’s cozy coupe and TWO MORE in the sandbox. As a bonus, we found a sizable centipede as well. (Those suckers scare the heebie jeebies out of me!)

Centipede, Albuquerque Mom's Blog
Kill the Beast

This little black widow hunting expedition is not the first one we have been on. It seems like I remember doing the same thing last fall, and even the one before that.  One year we found nine black widows in our backyard on one night. I guess it comes with this desert territory we live in.

The bottom line is this: if you’ve never gone out into your yard in the dark and shined a flashlight around in all of the corners, then you should definitely do it (or pay someone to do it for you). You might discover some new things that need your attention.

Here are a few little tidbits I’ve noticed that might help you out if you’re new to this whole spider hunting thing.

  1. New Mexico has black widows. Their venom is poisonous and requires medical treatment. It can be fatal in some cases.

  2. Black widow webs are messy . . . probably because their mates don’t care if they keep them clean or not . . . probably because they are dead because they got eaten by their lady friend after they gave them the best night on the town they had ever had. So, if the web you find is pretty, or has a nice pattern, it’s probably some other cool spider.

  3. Many bugs prefer to come out in the evening or at night when it is cool. During the day, black widows hide in little holes or dark spots. They come and sit in the middle of their webs in the late evening to catch their dinner.

  4. Whacking a spider that is sitting in the middle of a clear web is harder than it looks. They can easily escape back to their little hidey hole if you miss. I suggest using a spray that says “KILLS SPIDERS” and has a picture of a black widow on the package. Even if she crawls back into her hole, then the spray will do its job.

  5. Some people like to keep all living things alive and are probably upset that I would even suggest killing the beautiful black widows. However, I am very fond of my children and would prefer to keep them safe and pain-free. (Also, I don’t have any spare money to spend on a hospital visit because Christmas is coming). Since black widows do not respect my property and stay out of my sandbox, I will use the killer-spray that ensures they stay away (at least until next season when the newest batch moves in). I suggest all the Mamas of little ones do the same. We’ll let the pros keep the live ones in THEIR backyards.

    Black Widow Hunting at Night, Albuquerque Mom's Blog
    Black Widows are Beautiful Spiders with Ugly Webs

Your turn! What tips can you share with me to get rid of these stubborn spiders? Or do you prefer to let them stay? Do you know of any other New Mexican pests that need our attention?


  1. The black widows are the worst!!! We use a pest control company every 3 months to spray. Other pests to be aware of (especially with little ones around): scorpions (yes, even in ABQ!), centipedes, brown recluse spiders (no webs, they wander), and centipedes.

    • Yes! We’ve seen scorpions this fall as well. Not in our house, but up the street at the school where I teach. It’s been a buggy year!

  2. A great, non-toxic, and cheap spider killer is to mix dawn dish liquid with water. It is a neurotoxin to them but won’t hurt your little ones. it also stays around so if you miss the spider she will get into it later on!

    • What a great idea! I am nervous the kids will get into the spray zones every time we spray. We’ll have to try this easy alternative.

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