The black widow spider is of the family Theridiiae. The males are much smaller. They are noted for their diet of other spiders but have been known to kill small lizards as well as insects. The female can and will devour the male, however, this is rare and not commonplace. Females have a jet black body with a sort of sheen to it and a striking red hourglass on its abdomen. The males are smaller and their hourglass is faint and can be non-existent.
They can be found under logs, rocks, and in dark corners of a garage and old buildings. It is not uncommon for them to be located in an outhouse or privy and have been noted to biting a male on his genitalia when sitting. The Black Widow is found in every state except Alaska.
Latrodectism is the syndrome when one is bit by a Black Widow. A syndrome is a group of symptoms that present in a constant specific way. Instead of local inflammation at the bite site as in a Recluse bite, the widow often has sustained muscle spasm. It is a neurotoxin that can cause hypertension, muscle spasm, and can mimic an acute abdomen. An acute abdomen is sudden pain in the belly that can be severe very much like an appendicitis.
It should be noted as per Dr. Paul Auerbach, Author of Wilderness Medicine , there was a nine year period in the United States where 23,400 Black Widow bites were recorded. Of these 23,400 cases, 33.5% had moderate symptoms, 1.5% had major symptoms and ZERO deaths were reported.
As recently as 15 years ago, Calcium Gluconate was used. It has since been discontinued and does not improve outcome.