The “perfect storm” of environmental factors has contributed to a higher amount than normal of black widows being spotted across the Okanagan. (Phil McLachlan - Western News)

‘Perfect storm’ causes influx of black widows in the Okanagan

The region’s only venomous spider has come out in full force this year

It’s spider season in the Okanagan and black widows, the only venomous spider found in the region, have come out in full force.

The “perfect storm” of environmental factors has contributed to a higher amount than normal of black widows being spotted around town, according to owner and operator of Okanagan-based Bug Master Pest Control, Steve Ball.

READ MORE: ‘Tarantula moth’ spotted in broad daylight on Vancouver Island

Ball says that once the weather begins to cool overnight black widows begin to move indoors.

“We’re right smack in the middle of spider season,” said Ball. “This is the time of year they start to emerge in people’s houses because it’s cold overnight.”

Insects also tend to have a natural year-to-year “ebb and flow” where a year of with fewer insects will be followed by a year with more, said Ball — and this seems to be a year where there’s more.

The unusual amounts of precipitation earlier in the year followed by the hot temperatures seen later in the summer also created “the perfect environmental factors” for insects to breed, explained Ball.

Finally, COVID-19 essentially shutting the world down for months may have also contributed to the influx of black widows.

“The humans went away for four months this year and that’s perfect news for the insects,” Ball said. “There’s nobody out killing them and there’s just less activity in general so nature has a way of taking over at that point,” said Ball.

Although black widows are venomous, Ball said they don’t actually pose a very big threat to humans. The spiders rarely bite humans unprovoked and for most people, a black widow bite shouldn’t be seen as a death sentence.

If a healthy adult is bitten they can expect soreness and swelling around the bite area and possibly a fever. Children, the elderly, and people with underlying health conditions are at a higher risk of suffering more serious complications from a black widow bite which may require a hospital visit.

READ MORE: Okanagan temperatures hit 30 C by end of September



jesse.day@pentictonwesternnews.com

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