Black Widow Spider

Black Widow Spider…

Black widow spider, young female, Europe, Croatia, photo by K. Korlevic

The females in this species are far more famous, and dangerous, than the males. They have shiny black bodies with red markings. The males do not bite, but the venom of the female’s bite is fifteen times more potent than a rattlesnake’s, so thank goodness they only bite people if they are bothered! The bite will initially feel about like a pin prick, but within just a few minutes the victim will start feeling pain and other symptoms.


Black widow spider (Lactrodectus hesperus) and egg sac. Photograph by Mark Chappell of University of California, Riverside cc2.5

The female often kills the male soon after mating, which is how they got the name “widow”. She lays silken egg-balls (each of which contain several hundred eggs) attached to a web. However, only a few of the offspring manage to survive after hatching.

Female specimen of Latrodectus tredecimguttatus Rossi, 1790 (Europäische Schwarze Witwe, Mediterrenean Black Widow) found in Corte, Corsica. Image credit: Sphoo cc3.0

These spiders like to shelter in dry spots, and feed mainly on insects. When feeding, they puncture the prey with their fangs and release digestive enzymes into its body. The prey’s body liquefies and the spider then sucks up this liquid.

Black Widow Spiders are featured in the following books:
25 Most Poisonous Animals in the World
101 Facts… SPIDERS!
101 Facts… Desert Animals

View the complete list of 25 poisonous animals.

Black Widow Spider Close up

Dragonhood gives us an excellent close-up of the legendary black widow, including the red hour glass on its underside.

I’M ALIVE: Teen Survives Black Widow Spider Bite

AnimalPlanetTV shares with us the story of a young man’s meeting with the black widow.

First Aid & Safety Procedures: How to Identify & Treat Black Widow Spider Bites

Captain Joe Bruni from expertvillage gives us some tips on dealing with one of the most deadly spiders in the world.


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