The question has been asked, are there black widow spiders in the great state of Missouri? The short answer is, yes. Black widow spiders can be found all over the United States, especially in states to the West and South. However, that is no reason for anyone to be suspicious of every black spider that crosses their path. Though it is true that the bite of the female black widow is quite venomous, it is also true that this lady has no real intention of biting anyone who treats her with respect. That doesn't mean that you want them finding refuge in your closet, but it shows that there is little reason for alarm.
It is said that the black widow earned her unfortunate name because the female will eat the male directly after mating. It is not entirely true, some males do escape with their lives and this unfortunate habit is observed mostly in captivity when the male is unable to get away. However, the name stuck. The female black widow is easily identified by the black glossy body with red spots on their abdomen in the tell tale shape of an hour glass. She is usually about 1 1/2 inches long including legs. The male of the species is usually smaller, lighter in color and have a brown stripe down their backs. Most importantly, the male spider is completely harmless, and very rarely seen.
The black widow likes dark, damp areas to spend her time. She prefers low to the ground areas such as in the crevices of rocks, wood piles and in tree stumps. On occasion she can be found in dark spaces inside sheds, and garages. She spins large, intricate webs made of strong, sticky threads that she hangs upside down on to show off her markings. This serves as a warning to any predators near her. The female will rarely leave her web, preferring her solitary life, eating other arachnids, flies and other insects who get caught in her web.
Unlike the common house spider, the black widow is a rare sight in St. Louis and the surrounding areas. Besides being few in number they will also avoid human contact only biting if they are handled or feel threatened. If you happen to see one, for safety's sake it is probably best to leave it be. If it is in or around your home, always call a professional company to take care of the problem.