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West Kelowna  

Black widows creep in


This year’s long, hot summer brought on more than just wildfires for the Okanagan. The dry weather also meant an increase in bugs.

Bug Master Pest Control expert George Forgie says with bugs come spiders, and now as mornings start to get cooler, the arachnids are wanting to come inside.

Forgie says he's attending more calls than previous years to deal with black widows.

“I did two calls today, and we had numerous people calling us last week,” he says, adding that this month alone he has attended more than 20 calls for black widow spiders in residences.

While black widows are not aggressive their venom is neurotoxic to humans, and a bite could be fatal to a child or the elderly. Forgie hopes by showing residents what kind of webs black widows weave, people can avoid the pest and not get bitten.

Black widows build webs close to the ground that can stretch over a large area. The web will appear irregular in shape and is made of strong threads.

“They are not webs, per se, they (look like) trip wires and the only way to see them is because there is ... junk hanging in it,” he explains, as he points to leaves and dirt gathered in a low-hanging web.

Black widows are identifiable by their shiny colour and the red hourglass marking on the underside of their abdomens. Most black widow’s bodies are three to 10 mm in size with females being larger than males, which can measure up to 13 mm in body length.

They typically favour dark, secluded areas such as garages, basements, or woodpiles.

“If you feel it is a black widow you should not fool around with it, not try and deal with it yourself,” he says. “They are very quick at re-building just brushing them away doesn’t do very much they will just start something else in another minute over somewhere else.”

Instead Forgie recommends calling a pest control company to have the area where the black widow is located sprayed with a special chemical.

“The chemical is called Pyrethrin, it is made from the African daisy or chrysanthemum flower and it’s not toxic to dogs, cats, kids or people with allergies, it is not going to hurt anybody but it is going to kill spiders.”

Forgie says that if he sprays in the fall it should clear up a residential spider problem for sometime, indicating if he sprayed today the affect would last until the snow falls.

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