Black Widow Spiders
While male and female black widow spiders are both dangerous, their venom is not nearly as powerful as that of rattlesnakes. In fact, black widows deliver less venom than snakes, but the bites are still extremely painful. Alpha-latrotoxin, the toxin released by the black widow, overwhelms nerve cells and causes extreme pain and swelling. It is not recommended for people with compromised immune systems to have this spider live in their homes.
Adult males lack the hourglass pattern
An adult male black widow spider is much smaller than its female counterpart. Males have longer legs and large pedipalps, which are second pairs of appendages on the main body part. This pattern is characteristic of most male spiders. Nonetheless, female black widow spiders do not lack the hourglass pattern. Unlike female black widow spiders, adult male black widow spiders do not possess this hourglass pattern.
Female black widows display red markings on the underside of their abdomens. These markings are often described as an hourglass and sometimes appear on the backside. The markings on the southern female are continuous and connected, while the ones on the northern black widow spiders are broken. The markings may be faint or bold but often include a diagonal whitish strip. A black widow spider’s hourglass pattern may be present in both regions of its abdomen.
Females feed on males
Black widow spiders are named after their behavior of eating male spiders after mating. They will often feed on male spiders as a protein source. They are capable of living for up to three years, but males have shorter lives than females. Regardless of the length of their life, males will eventually die. However, females can live for up to three years in the wild. It is important to avoid black widow spiders if you’re allergic to them.
While male black widow spiders usually kill and consume their mates, female black widow spiders sometimes feed on their mates. Female black widow spiders pierce the legs of their male partners during mating. According to Masaryk University researchers, only 12 percent of prospective male spiders reach the female web. Once pierced, the female starts feeding on her mate. When her partner dies, the female will kill it and feed on its corpse.
They are primarily solitary
As a member of the black widow family, you’re probably aware that the black widow is mainly solitary. They are only known to mate once a year, in late spring. To get pregnant, male black widow spiders spin silk that contains sperm, then wrap the silk around their palps near the head. They then insert the sperm-coated palps into the female reproductive opening.
This spider is mostly solitary and spends most of its time near the ground, spinning irregular webs. It usually hides in places with low light levels, such as outhouses and barns. However, black widows can enter human dwellings through cracks in doors or in stacked firewood. Adult female black widow spiders are red with crosswise bars on their abdomen, resembling the shape of a red hourglass.
They make irregular, asymmetrical, “disorganized” looking webs
Black widow spiders are the most common black widow species found in North America. They live in all states except Hawaii and have a moderately toxic bite. They produce irregular, asymmetrical “disorganized” looking webs, which are highly noticeable and easy to spot. A black widow’s bite is not always lethal, but it can be fatal if injected.
These “disorganized” looking webs are created by black widow spiders, whose females lay eggs in November. The eggs are purple-red and transparent and are held together in an egg sac. Female spiders lay one to 10 marble-shaped egg sacs in a sac, which hatches within 10 days. The young spiderlings remain inside the sac until they have their first molt. They will feed on small insects and mites.
They are venomous
Venomous spiders are dangerous to people, so it’s best to be cautious when around them. Black widow spiders inject a small amount of venom into humans and other animals when threatened. The venom isn’t fatal, but it’s enough to cause severe pain, muscle weakness, and labored breathing. Although black widow spiders rarely bite humans, they will attack when cornered or pressured.
The venom in black widow spiders is 15 times more powerful than that of rattlesnakes. If bitten, a black widow spider can cause muscle aches, nausea, diaphragmatic paralysis, and even death. Small children are particularly vulnerable to the venom, and black widow spider bites should be treated immediately. However, black widow spiders are not aggressive, and will only bite in self-defense.