DENVER (KDVR) — Temperatures across Colorado are starting to freeze as winter approaches, and that means critters like bugs and spiders could be looking to crawl into your home to stay warm.

That includes the notorious black widow spider.

“Black widows have always had a bad reputation because they are quite venomous, which is unfortunate,” said Francisco Garcia, entomology manager at Butterfly Pavilion.

Garcia said Colorado has the Western black widow, which is native to the state. He said encounters with humans are very rare because these spiders are shy and like to be left unbothered.

“We are always interested in the dangerous things, but we have to remember that spiders are super important for the environment,” Garcia said.

He explained that male Western black widows aren’t dangerous to humans, but the females — who are typically much bigger — can be.

“The female widows are the ones who will actually be dangerous to humans,” Garcia said.

So far this year, the state can expect an increase in the Western black widow because of a humid and wet summer. He said the bugs they prey on have increased, which helped their population thrive.

A female Western black widow spider
A female Western black widow spider (Credit: Butterfly Pavilion)

What happens after a black widow spider bite?

Garcia said the last time someone in the United States died from a reported black widow bite was back in 1983.

“It depends on the person, depends on your age and depends on your immune system,” Garcia said.

Dr. Eric Hill, an emergency physician at Medical Center of Aurora, said it is rare to see people coming in with a black widow bite.

“They do happen. I maybe see them once a year,” Hill said.

He said it’s important to keep an eye on symptoms if you find yourself bitten by a black widow spider. He said you can self-treat the bite with ice packs if there is pain, but keep an eye on how you’re feeling overall.

“When you have a black widow bite that is severe, you can have the intense muscle spasms and cramping and abdominal pain,” Hill said. “Those symptoms are unique to the black widow family and aren’t normal with other spider bites.”