Black widow spider (Courtesy: National Geographic Society)
FELTON, Pa. (WHTM) -
They may not be pretty, but most spiders are generally harmless. Unless, of course, you're talking about the black widow.
"We've talked to neighbors who have lived here for 30 years, they've never seen one, and we found one under the seat of one of our kids' bicycles," said Barb Harmen.
Life changed for the Harmen family two weeks ago when they uncovered more than 30 black widow spiders surrounding their home in Felton, York County.
"My husband went into complete panic mode ... the kids went on lockdown," she said.
That lockdown is because the bite of a black widow is toxic and can even be deadly for humans.
"You're talking organ shutdown ... big time stuff," said Ryan Bridge, a entomology outreach instructor known locally as "The Bug Man."
"There's no cold temperatures and not enough predators to kill them off, so we are going to be seeing a lot more black widows," said Bridge. "It's something that the people of Pennsylvania need to prepare for."
Part of preparing is knowing what to look for. The tell-tale sign of a black widow is a hard-to-spot red hourglass shape on their belly. Some also have red spots on their back.
With their children in mind, Harmen and her husband continue with their efforts to rid their property of the venomous spiders. This family has tried extermination but, so far, it has only made a dent.
If you do encounter one, Bridge says a couple shots of hairspray will stop this insect in her tracks.