Black Widow – Black Widow Spiders Facts and Fallacies

December 13, 2013 | By More

Black WidowThe Black Widow is one of the most feared of the types of spiders all over the world and for a good reason. It is said to be that the bite of the Black Widow has a venom potency which is 15x stronger than that of the rattlesnake’s, but is there any truth to this? Should we be really be afraid of this spider? Are Black Widow Spiders really that common or is the claim that they are everywhere simply a stretching of the truth? This article aims to shed light on some of the misconceptions about this famous and dreaded spider.

Black Widow Fallacies and Facts

Black Widow Spiders has long been the subject of perpetuated myths which are misrepresentations or exaggerations of the truth. Some of those stretching of the truth are covered in the table below:



Body Markings A Black Widow Spider is always shiny black with a red hourglass marking on its abdomen. Female Black Widow Spiders do have a shiny black body, glossy looking legs and a red hourglass shape on its abdomen; however this is only fact or truth for females. Males are not black in color, they are brown or even lighter in coloration and are smaller than the female. Their hourglass shaped mark may be cream or brown colored too.
The Practice of Cannibalism The female will always eat the male after mating. That is how the spider got its name. The female spider do not always eat the male after mating. Studies have shown that this only happens when the female is very hungry or if the male spider is an unwanted mate.
Habitat These spiders can be found everywhere in the world and may even be in your home. There are several species of spiders that belongs to the Widow or Latrodectus type and yes they are all over the world. However, what is known as the Black Widow is typically found in the West and South United States area. They are also most likely found outdoors near piles of woods or in barns. Finding them in the home is the exception and not the rule.
Toxicity of Venom Just one bite from the spider will kill a grown man instantly. The venom of this spider is indeed very toxic, but it is not enough to kill a grown man instantly. In healthy adults, the bite of the female Widow Spider will be enough to cause hospitalization but it is rarely fatal. Those who are frail, very young, or very old is more likely to die from the Widow bite.
Aggression These spiders are ferocious predators and actively hunt and bite victims. Widows are web spinning spiders. They hunt prey by catching them in its web. They do not actively hunt prey nor humans to attack. More so, they don’t immediately deliver the bite in case of prey but rather wraps the prey in silk first.

Black Widow – Additional Facts

  1. Among all the spiders, the Black Widows are known to produce the strongest of silks.
  2. The bite of the Black Widow may feel like a pinprick or may not be felt at all.
  3. Symptoms of having been bitten by this spider include flu-like symptoms such as muscle pain, some cramping, weakness, and nausea. Cramping of the abdomen may also be present in more severe cases and can last for days, even with the administration of antivenin.
  4. In case of difficulty of breathing, the bitten person may also be suffering from allergy to the venom and should receive immediate medical attention.
  5. The Black Widow is just one of the group of Widow Spiders who are known to eat mates after mating. In some cases, the male spider may be the one to eat the female after the mating ritual.

Black Widow Spiders – Best Identification Mark

The Black Widow is fairly easy to spot or identify among the different types of common spiders. Their tell-tale distinctive shiny black body and legs, spherical body and red hourglass shape on the abdomen makes them one of the most recognizable among the dangerous biting spiders. The problem with identification may lie in the fact that males are not black but come in various shades of brown. Also, there are also other types of Widow Spiders which may bear the red marking in other shapes.

Category: Spiders

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