Evil! We have found them in the yard several times, always under the swimming pool. It was a pool where the sides went all the way to the ground creating a nice dark area. When we first tilled up our back garden area about 5 years ago I could have sworn a spider I saw was a black widow but David crushed it into the dirt and we couldn't find the body to get a good look. I don't know of any other shiny hairless black spiders around here. There are always small messy looking spider webs on the ground all over the place under plants. Well on Thursday I was watering an eggplant and realized I was staring at one of the biggest Black Widow spiders I have ever seen in a web around the base of the plant. Well, it helped ruin my day!
I can not stand the thought that there is a tiny creature in our yard that if it bites us will potentially kill or cripple my children. I knew a woman we bought milk from several years back whose teen daughter was bit by a Black Widow spider when lifting up a piece of wood she didn't look under first. Last I talked to her a year after the bite she was still having a lot of problems. The spider crawled back in to the straw mulch after I spotted it and I haven't been able to find it since to kill it. Our chickens love to eat anything alive they can find however I doubt setting them loose will lower the Black Widow spider population enough to compensate for the near complete destruction of our plants. I guess I need to look into getting some Guineas again and the book Gardening with Guineas. They are supposed to be great about eating bugs and not plants. However they are notoriously stupid. I guess we would need the Guinea X'ing sign on that page.