EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Recent extreme heat and frequent rains have spurred more complaints than usual about venomous black widow spiders in southwestern Indiana.
Entomologists theorize this summer’s hot, wet weather may be driving the spiders indoors, sometimes biting residents, the Evansville Courier & Press reported .
“We have been getting a lot of calls about them,” said Brian Ranes, an entomologist at McMahon Exterminating. “In the last three to four weeks we’ve seen tons of them.”
Hundreds of spider species live in the state, but only the black widow and brown recluse are capable of seriously injuring humans with their bites, according to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Ranes said it’s more common to see brown recluse spiders during the summer months when they breed.
“Black widows we see more in September,” he said. “We are seeing them more now.”
The change isn’t that there are more black widows as it is that they’re more likely to be seen when inside, said Megan Abraham, an entomologist with the state agency.
“It just makes them more visible,” Abraham said. “They do not like being around people.”
Black widow bites are rarely fatal, but their venom is a neurotoxin that affects the chest, abdomen or potentially the entire body. Symptoms can include abdominal pain, difficulty breathing and nausea, Ranes said.
The spiders are recognizable by their shiny black color and a bright red or yellow hourglass-shaped marking on the abdomen’s underside. Their webs tend to be irregularly-shaped, strong and thick.
Black widows are usually found outside in wood piles, landscaping and garages. Ranes recommends wearing gloves when working outdoors and treating the exterior of a home to keep spiders out.