Black Widow Spiders In Western Washington!

By
Home Inspector with King of the House Home Inspection, Inc

  I have to admit, as a Washingtonian all my life, I have always thought that the only place a person would find black widows spiders would be east of the mountains, as in eastern Washington. Those of us born and raised here know that the "serious" spiders and snakes are found on the hot side of the state. Now, that does not mean that some dingbat does not catch, and bring over, a rattler or two. I remember in my senior year at Bellingham High School, back before Lincoln was elected President, a kid brought two rattlers to biology. They were in an aquarium in class. Some goof let them out and they immediately found a hole in the wall and vanished. That wing of the school was cordoned off till they found them -- somehow -- later in the day.

And, back to spiders, I had a home inspection student who worked in produce at a local grocery store. He said that the widows often come in on produce so the staff looks out for them. Now, all this makes sense as far as humans and our activities moving the species into new areas. However, last time I taught a class in wood destroying organisms at Bellingham Technical College, Dan Suomi of the WSDA was a guest. He said that black widow spiders (long prevalent in Eastern WA crawl spaces) are now being found in Western WA too. I have a collection of a couple of them, preserved, but I have to admit that mine are from east of the mountains. Regardless, when Dan says they are on this side now, and we might see them at inspections, you can assume the information is accurate. As for just how poisonous they are, from what I can gather, it is kind of like people and bees. What is no big deal for one person can be very serious to another. Adult students I have had in the class, who have lived with the black widow spiders forever, said that if a person is bit, you just watch the bite and you, or your mom if you are a kid, can tell pretty quickly whether or not you need a doctor.

The funny thing is that some macho inspectors who will wrestle a serpent to the death if need be, hyperventilate if they see a tiny spider with an hourglass on its back. These otherwise brave individuals have been know to scream like little girls and exit the crawl space in a dither. I guess that is because, in the end, it is all about spiders and snakes. 

 

Steven L. Smith

Bellingham WA Home Inspector

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Comments 9 New Comment

Rainmaker
1,172,496
Steven L. Smith
Bellingham WA Home Inspector
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc

Andy,

I know that Dan Suomi of the state WSDA knows that the black widows get over to this side of the state. He has told me that a few times. I am pretty sure I saw one at Point Roberts. They are still more common the east side. I guess you can spray it or not. The people who live around them often do not worry much about them. But some people are allergic, sort of like bees and the different effects they have on people.

July 01, 2008 09:59 AM
Anonymous #6
Anonymous
Anonymous

KNOW they live in washington! When I lived in Bremerton many years ago, we would find them all the time in our garage. Our food pantry was out there and they would always hide in the corners above the food. I was always soooo scared to grab for food. I burnt their baby sacks as much as I could but I was too scared to touch them. My sister in Port Orchard also just found one 2 days ago when they ripped apart their front porch. Creepy little buggers!!

- Stacey

September 17, 2008 01:20 AM
Rainmaker
1,172,496
Steven L. Smith
Bellingham WA Home Inspector
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc

I am pretty sure I saw one at Point Roberts  once too, as mentioned above....that is almost Canada.

September 17, 2008 09:18 AM
Anonymous #8
Anonymous
Joel Sanders

I dare say that 99+% of the Black Widows here on the West side came here in hay from the East side. I'm fairly certain that if you find one and then you look around your neighborhood you will discover that you are in fairly close proximity to where they keep cattle or horses.  Still it's kind of creepy to think that "they" are here...

May 08, 2009 02:04 AM
Anonymous #9
Anonymous
Rex
I actually went and picked up a hot tub from craigslist in the bothell area and we found no less than five living underneath it. Before that I had no idea they were even around here.
June 08, 2009 03:02 AM
Rainmaker
1,172,496

Steven L. Smith

Bellingham WA Home Inspector
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Additional Information

Steven L. Smith, King of the House Home Inspection, provides information for real estate buyers, sellers and real estate industry professionals. Blog posts emphasize issues commonly found in Bellingham, WA and Whatcom County. Smith is Washington State Licensed Home Inspector #207, a state licensed structural pest inspector, ASHI certified inspector #252760 and one of the most experienced inspectors in the northwest corner of the Pacific Northwest. Steven L. Smith is lead instructor of home inspection at Bellingham Technical College and teaches classes for Washington State University and the Washington State Department of Agriculture. Steve was a two-term member of the state licensing board.