The female Southern black widow is a shiny black spider with a distinctive red hourglass on the abdomen. The Southern black widow has a complete hourglass, while the Western species’ hourglass can vary from two connected triangles to separated triangles to a minimum of barely visible red blotches. Typical outdoor habitats in which spiders are often found include wood and rock piles, rodent burrows, and hollow tree stumps. Indoor habitats include outhouses, garages, sheds, and basements. In nature, most bites occur while reaching under an object that the spider inhabits such as a woodpile or stones. While working in or around areas of suitable habitat for these spiders, wearing gardening gloves can help prevent envenomation. Additionally, use caution when working in sheds and barns where spiders can be found.
A significant number of unconfirmed brown recluse spider bites are reported in the state of Florida every year. Most are found in buildings and outbuildings, especially in boxes and among papers, in every room from basement to attic. They are found in almost any place which has remained undisturbed for lengthy periods of time, such as behind pictures, beneath or behind furniture, in boxes of toys, in clothing, among stored papers, in the corrugations of cardboard boxes, and in discarded articles, such as tires, inner tubes, and assorted other junk. They definitely seemed to prefer dry conditions. Brown recluse spiders usually bite only when they become trapped next to the victim’s skin. Bites occur either when sleeping humans roll onto the spider or put on clothes into which the spider has crawled. Persons who suspect they have been victimized by a brown recluse spider bite are strongly encouraged to consult with a physician as soon as possible.