Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Black Widows


Hi Nathan,

I live in a basement apartment that is invested with Black Widows.  Last summer I killed over one hundred of them . . . mostly in my bedroom!  I can't have poison spray.  Also, when the bug guy came to spray (I wouldn't let him), he said that it doesn't kill them right away . . . they have very small feet.  So I was figuring on half dead punch drunk Black Widows acting in uncharacteristic ways.  Because they were very "reliable" not on any poison.  I always knew where they were or where they might be.  They never were in my clothes or bed . . . always someplace that had an "angle" like a corner or something.  My question is: how reliable are those electronic spider repellents? Not the cheap ones, but the more expensive fancy ones? And since "my" black widows haven't returned this year yet, would it keep them from returning? And lastly, would it make them punch drunk like the poison or would it just make them stay away?

Thanks so much!


You certainly have a dilemma on your hands.

Spiders are very hard to kill with sprays because sprays rely on contacting the spider to be effective.  Because so little of the spider actually touches anything, it makes treatments very spotty in their effectiveness.  That is the science behind what the technician told you.

Regarding the use of electronic devices to repel spiders (or other insects):  there is no scientific research that supports the claims that electronic devices repel insects or spiders.  That's all I can tell you.

You might consider putting sticky traps in the corners to help ensnare them before they start establishing themselves for the year.

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Nathan Riggs


I currently live in San Antonio, TX and have expertise in identifying insects, many types of spiders, and other arthropod critters that infest lawns, ornamentals, structures, trees, pets and livestock. Mites are not a strong point of mine. I'm not a licensed doctor, so I cannot provide medical diagnosis of conditions possibly related to insects or other arthropods. If you've got an interesting photo for me to see, attach it to your question, or let me know and I'll give you my email so the picture will get to me. If you have hosted an insect photo on a website, please include the link so I can go look at it and provide a faster ID for you. You may also join my group page on Facebook and post your picture at www.facebook.com/groups/antmans.hill/.


22+ years' experience as an entomologist: 5 years as a biologist with Merck Animal Health (I was part of the R&D team that worked to develop FrontLine flea and tick products) and 7 years as an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Specialist in San Antonio, Texas with Texas Cooperative Extension.

Veterinary Parasitology, Southwestern Entomologist, San Antonio Express News, San Antonio Gardener Newsletter, Master Gardener SCION Newsletter, GardenStyleSA e-Newsletter

BS - Entomology from Texas A&M University in 1992.

Board Certified Entomologist, 1996-2000 - Medical and Veterinary Entomology Specialty (Entomological Society of America)

Awards and Honors
2000 Texas A&M University Vice Chancellor's Award in Excellence for leadership on the Texas Fire Ant Program Educational Team.

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