This is a serious debatable question about Black Widow spiders

Hello, Maddie here (otherwise known by some of the older residents of this garden neighborhood as the olde madgardener) now that I'm frantically gardening somewhere in Western Tennessee in a warmer zone, moister climate, low-lands and farmland abounding.........I have a very serious question: I have now encountered my first and not last, black Widow spider. I know they're out there. Especially since last late summer when I was turning over the raised brick garden to plunk in the few remaining container gardens and perennials, soil and all into the raised dirt. The first encounter was the HUGE wench that was blatently obvious in the eastern corner which once James, me Englishman tilled up the soil from my turning it over first by hand with a shovel, she revealed herself. We put her in a glass gallon pickle jar, but she eventually died. The second one, right afterwards was a smaller one (the first was as large as a fifty cent Kennedy piece, serious!) she was the size of a quarter. She had moved into the hollow spot on the bottom of a three gallon nursery pot filled with daylilies. She got squashed, quickly. The third encounter was back in the raised bed. She had used the roots and soil of some perennials to make her cave, and I just plunked the whole thing in with the thought that she'd be overcome and I had buried her alive. I don't know if she was able to work her way out of the soil since the depth was a foot down with daylily toes and soil above her to get through. She's the reason I now have to remember to wear garden gloves or at least those awesome latex gloves I found where I used to work that we weren't allowed to use.
Since I have now had my first encounter with the first of many black widows, my question is this, knowing that I am benevolent and usually encourage the beneficials in my gardens.....this one is spinning her capture webs over my window box that is sitting on the end of the brick sedum and sunny perennials garden. When I was watering the columbine that had sprung up in the middle of the Turkish toes sedums that are growing in that long pot, I disturbed her and she huffed into the crack where the bricks were meeting the shed back. As much as I know she'll keep out bad bugs, I need to know if I should allow her to live her life there and have her many children....or should I spray her now and keep an eye peeled for future inhabitants? I've also seen and had it killed, my first serious encounter with a brown recluse. I kill those. this one wasn't too close to me, the neighbor showed it to me, and then upon my insistance, smashed it. I realize that the black widow bite won't kill me but I would feel like I was having a heart attack, and given my age now, it could mess me up. The recluse is a no-brainer. Beneficial or not, one has to use common sense. The widow isn't agressive, and only bites when cornered. Should I spray her dead and make her tidy little perfect corner uninhabitable?
thanks in advance........
madgardener over in the flatlands, gardening in her new Western Faerie Holler, zone 7b somewhere in West Tennessee
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On Thu, 15 Apr 2010 11:19:35 -0700 (PDT), madgardener

Black widow bites are a serious health risk. And you already know what needs to be done if you choose to reduce the risk. The egg case should be burned.
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Adrenaline is toxic to the heart; I'd remove her one way or another just to avoid all the anxiety, whether from an actual bite or even the ongoing perceived possibility of one.
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When we moved into this house we had black widows that created webs all around the small front porch and in a nearby basement window well. We managed to kill them off after a few years.
Now we have some kind of spider that looks like a recluse and appears spring and fall in the bathtub. I used to squash them, now I just use the shower spray to flush them down the drain.
Ordinary garden spiders don't bother me. Venomous ones do.
gloria p
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If you don't have flies (enteric bacteria), or mosquitos (malaria, or heartworm [in dogs]) no problem.
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- Billy
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Blackwidow spiders will not bother you. One of the more beneficial arthroposds you can have in the garden. You wont find many and will not harm you if you just evade them. I've picked tomatos right by them. Just do it slowly.
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I tend to agree. Black Widows are more scared of me than I am of them.
The only critters I regularly kill in my yard are rattlesnakes. (Well, at least as regularly as they arrive which is only about 2 or 3 snakes a year. If that.) And even then, I'd rather just relocate them. I have more than 6 acres the rattlesnakes can live on. They don't need to be right near my house. :)
~~BB
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On Sat, 17 Apr 2010 00:37:05 GMT, BB

Do you eat what you kill?
Charlie
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Charlie wrote in wrote:

My partner won't let me. :)
Besides, I wouldn't know the first thing about skinning and cleaning a snake. Regardless, the corpses end up over the fence where the turkey vultures and crows and assorted scavengers end up with a lovely dinner.
~~BB
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On Apr 18, 2:35am, BB

just to go a bit further on the snake issue......you just cut off the head, grab the skin with needle nose pliers (like you do a catfish) and pull it off. in the case of the catfish, I usually either nail their heads to a plank for grasping abilities, or when I had it, there was a board with a heavy duty vise clamp that held the head while you skinned the catfish. I'd been tossing the dead birds over the back bottom fence for whatever is taking those, but now have discovered that the local authorities want bird bodies to document West Nile virus in birds. well rats. so since learning that, no more dead birds. I suspect mine were just old.........
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I wanted to thank all of you for your input. Knowing I still have more than two or three out there, I went to make the final decision, and because I had disturbed her web that she'd cast over my sedums and baby plants from the open crack in the bricks, she huffed off and didn't replace it. I believe she moved. Where is a ponder. I will have to be cautious now as I have temporairly moved the larger cactus to the edge of the carport where they can get the benefit of the full southern sun until I can position them out where they'll get rain and such. This black widow has moved on somewhere else. (I have to remind James that the tarp he's stretched over his tools on the back of the carport is VERRRRY inviting.........not only for widows but unfortunately for recluse. Although I don't think they'd tolerate each other. it would be one or the other. But knowing that if I am cautious and aware of them, I can let them be is a better solution. I'd not do this if my grand babies were in my gardens. But I'm too far for them to visit. I'm still going to have to become diligent about wearing gloves only because I have too many wonderful places for widows to make a home. Thanks for your input! (I love rattlesnake, by the way......it's not bad as I remember. didn't really taste like chicken, but it was a white meat that I recall. My great uncle Az cooked a few when we visited him and his wife in Texas when I was a young child. Aunt Hattie fried it and it wasn't bad.
thanks guys! I'll crank out a garden ramble soon. slipping behind the willow oaks............
madgardener in west faerie holler somewhere in far West Tennessee, zone 7b, Sunset zone 33
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Hello Maddie and others,
This is my first foray into rec.gardens and I thought I'd start here with my introduction. Just planted my one pot grown tomato, (yes 1 tomato of the year), 'Better Bush'. When ground reaches 70F I will plant my 3 Okra plants, from there I don't know. I had a 20 x 40 foot garden patch in South Carolina on 4.2 acres, but recently moved into a "gag" subdivision in North Carolina (near Charlotte) and have yet to set up a tiny garden spot.
What I learned about spiders, wasps and snakes in SC was to be diligent about keeping a neat trimmed grass, remove debris often around home and buildings, my philosophy is I will defend my home from all critters with fierceness! They, the critters can have the rest of the world but none will survive within 50 feet of My home! Any time an interloper comes crawling around they are quickly dispatched with extreme prejudice! I had lots of little snakes around the house as it was unkempt for quite a while and I relocated those to the woods, wasps get an immediate dose of wasp spray and treat windows around outside with crawling insect spray. Tiny frogs and lizards get relocated too.
To stay on topic here, I pulled this up on Wiki about, Latrodectus mactans, the (southern) Black widow at, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_black_widow#Range
See also: Spider bite Although these spiders are not especially large, their venom is extremely potent. Compared to many other species of spiders, their chelicerae are not very large or powerful. In the case of a mature female, the hollow, needle shaped part of each chelicera, the part that penetrates the skin, is approximately 1.0 millimeters (about 0.04 in) long, long enough to inject the venom to a point where it can be harmful. The males, being much smaller, inject far less venom with smaller chelicerae. The actual amount injected, even by a mature female, is very small in physical volume. When this small amount of venom is diffused throughout the body of a healthy, mature human, it usually does not amount to a fatal dose (though it can produce the very unpleasant symptoms of latrodectism). Deaths in healthy adults from Latrodectus bites are relatively rare in terms of the number of bites per thousand people. Sixty-three deaths were reported in the United States between 1950 and 1959[16]. On the other hand, the geographical range of the widow spiders is very great. As a result, far more people are exposed, worldwide, to widow bites than to bites of more dangerous spiders, so the highest number of deaths worldwide are caused by members of their genus. Widow spiders have more potent venom than most spiders, and prior to the development of antivenin, 5%[17] of reported bites resulted in fatalities. The venom can cause a swelling up to 15 cm. Improvements in plumbing have greatly reduced the incidence of bites and fatalities in areas where outdoor privies have been replaced by flush toilets. There are a number of active components in the venom: Latrotoxins A number of smaller polypeptides - toxins interacting with cation channels which display spatial structure homology - which can affect the functioning of calcium, sodium, or potassium channels. Adenosine Guanosine Inosine 2,4,6-trihydroxypurine. The venom is neurotoxic.

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Welcome to "wrecked gardens", personally, I hope you find the site informative.
You may wish to look up "Biodiversity" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodiversity #Human_benefits, and #Destruction_of_habitat
The simplest model would be the wolf and the rabbit, when their populations are in balance, neither are a nuisance to humans, but let the wolf population drop and the rabbits eat everything in sight. Let the rabbit population drop, and hungry wolves become a menace to people.
Kill spiders, and you invite mosquitos and/or flies. The other resort is polluting the environment with insecticides (see http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/05/080512-penguins-ddt.html ) . You will find many gardeners here who will grant wildlife, a portion of their crops, beyond that, you need to look into "integrated pest management".
I'm not suggesting that you let Black Widows into your bed, but you may want to cut non-venomous critters some slack, as they are probably performing an indispensable service for you.

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snip

I hear what your saying and do try to leave a small footprint, here in the Carolina's wasp can be over whelming and try to set up nests everywhere. If I see a nest on my front or back porch they are dispatched, anywhere else they aren't a bother, oh I forgot under the raised back deck where I stored my lawn tractor.
As far as spiders a strongly suggest wearing gloves at all times working in a garden and especially if picking up rocks. I totally understand and have personally observed tampering with the thread. I worked at a shop when one day a mouse was seen in an office trash can after the weekend, big deal, dump it out , but because the ladies in the office freaked the mgr had rat bait put out to kill all the mice. Well guess what, after all the mice where killed there was a gross invasion of hundreds of roaches that the mice ate and kept at bay. It was indeed better to have the mice!
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