What does a Black Widow Spider Look like?
A Black Widow Spider is a black shiny spider with a large abdomen. On the bottom of the abdomen is a red hourglass marking. There is much variation in size of female Black Widows, particularly while they are carrying their eggs. Many female widows also have an orange or red hourglass patch just above the spinnerets on the top of the abdomen. Black Widow Spiders are very beautiful but can be dangerous.
The male is either black, or grayish in color and is much smaller than the female. Juveniles look very different from the adults. The abdomen of juvenile is grayish to black with white stripes running across it and is spotted with yellow and orange.
Where does the Black Widow Spider live?
Black Widows are found throughout the United States, but are most commonly found in the southern parts of the United States. They generally can be found under porches, logs, houses, and in darker places. Their webs look like the great white puffs of spun sugar (cotton candy) found at carnivals. So stay away!
What does the Black Widow Spider Eat?
The Black Widow Spider is an arachnid that eats insects and other spiders that she catches in her web. When the prey is entangled by the web the spider wraps the prey securely in its strong web, then bites its prey and injects its venom. The venom takes about ten minutes to take effect while the prey is held tightly by the spider. When the prey stops moving, digestive enzymes are released into the bite wound. The black widow spider then carries its prey back to its retreat before feeding. The Black Widow is a very venomous spider. That means its bite has poison in it that kills its prey, or the insects it eats. Even though a Black Widow Spider's bite probably won't kill a grown up, it could hurt or even kill a small child. Please don't play with these spiders If you see a Black Widow Spider you should leave it alone.
How does a Black Widow Spider defend itself?
A Black Widow Spider has a good ability to defend itself. The spider has a very strong venom that when injected into a grown up will cause a lot of pain and cramping sometimes all over the body. The Black Widow Spider can also move very fast if it has to, but they prefer to sit and hide in dark places which they blend into very well.
What stages does it go through as it matures?
The female deposits her eggs in a sac that she makes from the same silk she uses to make her web. A female black widow spider can produce four or more egg sacs in one summer, each one with more than 100 eggs. Usually, the eggs incubate for twenty to thirty days. Few of the juvenile spiders actually make it through the first weeks, because of cannibalism, lack of food, or lack of proper shelter. Like other spiders as a Black Widow gets bigger it molts. It takes two to four months for black widow spiders to mature enough to breed, however full maturation typically takes six to nine months. The females can live for up to five years, while a male's lifespan is much shorter.
What is special about the Black Widow Spider?
The Black Widow Spider is the most distinguishable venomous spider in the United States. Its red hourglass marking on the bottom of its large black round abdomen is very easy to spot. The female, on occasion, eats the male after mating, but not always.
How does the Black Widow Spider affect people?
The Black Widow Spider has caused only a handful of deaths among adults, but it is a painful enough bite to cause humans to try and keep them away. In the past Black Widow Spider bites were much more common because outhouses were in use, which is where they made their home.1