Black Widow Spider

Black Widow Spider
Black Widow Spider

Black widow making web When we talk about spiders, you see that there are so many kinds of them. We don’t speculate about them much, but they all have various differences that hardly any of us notice. For example, if you are a science student or mainly a biology student, you would be great at telling the difference between various species, but not all of us know about it and a lot of people now, strive to gather information about them. That is great as we all need to have a handful of relevant information about almost everything so that we can be of our own help in time of need. Right now, we are going to discuss the black widow spider.

In this article, you will get to gather all the required information regarding black widow spiders. From their description to how you can identify males from females and how they mate to how much time span they live, it is all in here. You also get to know about their venomous bite and how you can treat it on your own if you don’t have a doctor nearby. Just scroll down and gather as many data as you want to about black widow spiders and see how it’s any help to you!

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Black widow physiology The first thing that a lot of people might ask you when you tell them that you know a lot about spiders is their actual scientific term, and that is certainly the root of all information. Now if you don’t know the scientific term for any species, then the rest of the information sounds too irrelevant. However, if you say the scientific term for any species, it makes you sound more confident and knowledgeable.

Black widow spider hour glass As for the Black widow spider, Latrodectus Hesperus is its scientific name. Hourglass is the factor though the spiders are usually identified, which exists at the back of their abdomens. The hourglass is certainly quite prominent and you won’t face any difficulty in identifying it. It is visible on both male and female black widow spiders. They exist in temperate regions around the globe. Spiders are termed as carnivores and arachnid is also its super-category. Their average lifetime span is 1-3 years in the wildlife. They last for only a year or half as most of the people say. It is an exception if a black widow spider lasts for up to 3 years. This usually depends on the place they choose to spin their web in. The female black widow spider lives longer than the male, and that is because the females usually kill the male once they have mated with them. You will learn more about it in the breeding section in this article. The black widow spiders weigh around 1 gram, which is around .035 ounces.

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Female black widow Similar to all other spiders, the black widow also has 8 legs, but the male and females in this spider faun differ in their appearance. The female black widow spider is almost 40mm long. Their legs are outstretched and they have a 9×13 black abdomen. They basically have globular abdomens. There is an hourglass mark below their abdomen. This is usually of a red or yellow coloration.

Male black widow On the other hand, male black widow spiders are a bit lighter in their color. In the mid of their back, they have a pale brown stripe. From within this pale stripe, bright red or yellow stripes are there. Males are smaller than females. Where a female black widow spider measures 40mm, a male one measures 30mm. however, their legs are also outstretched. The Pedi palps (the biting appendages) are in front of their head and they are extremely noticeable as they are swollen.

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Black widow spiders create their web in specific types of locations, or it can be said that they habitat in specific types of places. They do so in the underside of rocks, plants, ledges, and debris. In winters or anytime when the weather changes to a bit breezy or cool, they can move into buildings or homes. Thus, in cold weathers, it is always safer to keep your houses clean so that you can get rid of any spiders before they turn harmful for you.

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Related Species

The basic genre or kind of these species are Latrodectus, which has 31 further related species. These types are widow spiders and we come across different names like these, such as brown and black widow spiders. Distribution of these spiders is all around the world but usually found in North America, Africa, and Australia. Here are some of the related species of black widow spider:

  • L. Hesperus: commonly found in the western United States. This is also the black widow spider and found in North America.

  • Latrodectus Hesperus

  • L. Mactans: the related species to the black widow spiders which commonly exist in the Central and Western United States. They exist in the warmest areas or locations of the world.

  • Latrodectus Mactans

  • L. Geometricus: usually found in the United States, but it also exists in Africa.

  • Latrodectus Geometricus

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    Habits, Diets

    Black widow spiders are of both western and eastern types. Both spin webs which are totally out of shape and form. They won’t have any of it, but if you look closely at a proper web and then that of a black widow spider, you will be able to see a visible difference between the two. The web spin by black widow spiders is irregular and has no shape. However, other spiders spin their web in definite shape and form. They look inconsistent in appearance, but the silk that they produce to spin the web is strong. However, the web of a black widow spider is not only rough but is also sticky.

    When it comes to their habits, black widow spiders usually found to be really shy. They have to stay on their web most of the time. Their bellies hang upwards and you won’t find them roaming about usually. When you disturb a black widow spider, especially a female, she will turn quite aggressive. This is exactly when she will leave her web and bite you, and mind you, the bite of a female black widow spider is extremely venomous.

    Black widow spider and wasp

    Talking about the diet of the black widow spiders, they also prey on insecticides. As mentioned above, they are the term carnivores. The preys they get into their webs are usually insects, like cockroaches and beetles. Other types of arthropods also found on the web. Once the black widow spider has gotten her/his hands, she makes small punctures in the body of the prey. This allows them to suck out all the blood from the prey’s body. It is not only blood, but they usually get all the liquid content out of their victim’s body. You might be wondering if anyone can prey on the black widow spider, right. Well, the mud-dauber wasps prey upon them.

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    The adult male widow spiders usually wander off in search of female black widow spiders. They don’t bite the females at all. However, the female black widow spiders usually bite or kill the male spider after mating with him. It is not a rule or fact; it does happen occasionally. This is more of an exception. However, the fact that males do not bite the females makes the female killing part more prominent.

    Egg sacs

    When it comes to breeding, the female black widow spider lays a lot of eggs. Every egg sac contains almost 250 or 255 eggs each. The egg sac is almost .5 inch in diameter and suspended in the web. Egg case is usually white or a little tan in color. Texture of this sac is like a paper. During the summer time, a female black widow spider is likely to produce 4 to 9 egg sacs. You definitely do the remaining math here on your own. This will somewhere be around fifteen hundred to two thousand eggs in all.

    When the young black widows emerge out of their sacs after a time period of 1 to 4 weeks, they have a coloration of orange and white. Where the female might carry around 250 or 255 eggs in her sac, maximum 12 survives out of the incubation period. The incubation period lasts from 15 to 30 days. Why is this so? Where the spider lays 250 or 255 eggs per sac how it is possible that hardly 12 might survive? This happens due to cannibalism by the other fellows.

    Spider on the twig

    The life of a female black widow spider is usually a year or more. The proper growth of a black widow baby takes a time span of almost 2 to 4 months. This usually depends on the prey availability. The more prey they get, the faster they grow. During this time period, female spiders molt six to eight times and the males molt three to six times.

    A female black widow spider matures in 90 days after emerging out of the egg sac. After their maturing age, they usually live six months more than a year or in some cases, they might live a bit longer. However, males take merely 70 days to mature after they emerge out of the egg sac. After they mature, males usually survive for a month or two only; no more than that.

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    There are almost 30 thousand types of spiders in the world, but the black widow spiders are most all around the world. When we talk about spider bites, they are not that BIG of a talk. They might cause itching or rashes and nothing more than that. The fact that spider bites are not dangerous is well known but the black widow spider has fear around the globe due to its bite. It is one of the most venomous spider species known to this day and can result in a lot more than just itching.

    The most venomous spider

    A female black widow spider is extremely venomous and found in North America. Their term is the most dangerous and venomous spider in the entire North America. The venom of a black widow spider (female) is 15 times more venomous than a rattlesnake. So you basically get an idea of how dangerous they can be. Female black widow is extremely harmful but the male is less dangerous. If a black widow spider bites you, it is always best to consult your doctor. You don’t exactly know whether it was a female black widow spider or a male one. The venom can spread fast enough in your body, so it is better to visit the nearest hospital as soon as possible.

    Now if you are waiting for serious symptoms to arrive, then you’ll most likely have a problem. It is always better or suggested to get the spider bite checked. If you live in Northern America and have no idea about how to identify different species of them, then it is better for you to get yourself checked.

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    Symptoms of the Black Widow Spider Bite

    As mentioned above, a female black widow spider bite is more harmful then the male one. A normal male bite doesn’t do much harm to you. Their bite symptoms are not that huge or endangering. Here are some symptoms that a person usually goes through when a male black widow spider bites him:

  • Pain Pain; which can vary from minimal to sharp one

  • Swelling and redness at the bitten place

  • A small fang mark; these can be two as well. They usually look like two red spots

  • In other cases, in which the bite might be venomous and extremely dangerous, you will experience the following symptoms. These will appear within 30 or 60 minutes after the spider has bitten you. But mostly you cannot figure out whether a female or male black widow spider has bitten you or not. The doctor can do the perfect diagnosis. Once these signs do appear, it is best to reach the nearest doctor as soon as possible. The symptoms caused by a female black widow spider are as follows:

  • Muscle spasms or cramps. These cramps usually begin near the area of the bite and gradually extend to different areas within 6-12 hours.

  • You might feel nauseated. This will or can result in vomiting as well.

  • You might get fever or experience chills.

  • You might start to sweat unexpectedly and a lot.

  • A severe headache bangs in.

  • Your blood pressure goes high unexpectedly.

  • You feel restless or go in a state of shock again and again.

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    How to Diagnose a Spider Bite?

    A lot of people don’t get whatever they have. You are lucky if you catch the spider biting you and get rid of it; at least you have seen it, right? What if you have not seen it bite you? The way of diagnosis is quite easy, check out the following content.

    The marks are the biggest sign to get an idea of what has bit you. As mentioned above, those two fangs appear in the bitten area, but if you cannot identify those as well, it is better to walk off to the doctor. You have to answer some questions which will help the doctor diagnose your bite easily. You have to show the bitten area. Then you have to answer questions about the description of the spider that bit you (if you have seen it). Otherwise, you will have to describe the symptoms that you have been feeling lately after the bite mark has appeared. Once the disease id diagnosed, you will be ready for treatment.

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    How Treat a Black Widow Spider Bite?

    Once you find minor or major symptoms of a spider bite, your next query is how to solve it. Yes, it is very important to take care of the spider bite. You really don’t have any idea about how strong the venom might be. The major symptoms obviously give you an idea about how worse the bite has been for you, so you need to take care of it right away.

    Thus, you need to have some first aid tips on your fingertips to help you when you are in a situation. When a spider has bitten you, here are some things that you can or must do. DON’T take it lightly as your life is precious than any other meaning in the world; do the following steps first and then head on for anything else:

  • The first best thing to do is to get medical help as soon as possible. A female black widow spider bite is 15 times more venomous than a rattlesnake. You need to get the seriousness of it, from this very fact. You can call your doctor or a hospital. A lot of towns have poison control centers; it might be of great help to call them.

  • You need to stay calm and in the place where you are. A lot of stress, movement, or excitement will cause the venom to flow in your blood.

  • Get yourself some ice and apply it to the area of infection

  • You are not supposed to apply a bandage. It might not be helpful at all; it can cause more harm.

  • Try to identify the spider bite type and talk to your doctor about it.

  • If you have someone who can take you to the hospital; then nothing beats that for sure. Otherwise, call someone to come and get you over to your doctor. If you have a personal doctor; he might visit you himself.

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    Reasons for a Black Widow Spider Bite

    Black widow spiders do not prey on humans. They do not look for a time to attack. These spiders are just aggressive when you try to irritate them or whenever they sense a threat. They will certainly bite in self-defense only. Black Widow Spider hardly leaves their web as they are termed as shy; if they left alone.

    The reason for a black widow spider bite is definitely disturbance and threat. They usually spin webs under rocks and etc. You can check the habitat heading above to get all the locations in which they spin their webs. So if you are working with rocks or ledges it is better to wear gloves. Make sure your hands and arms are perfectly covered. It is also good if you can cover your face somehow. Maybe a piece of cloth will help you in doing so.

    Widow spider spin web

    Spiders also reside in dark corners as they are shy; if you are working in dark areas, it is yet again safer if you wear gloves. They can also make their home inside your shoes, as its dark in there, so before you take out an old shoe of yours, it is good if you make sure it’s clean and get it washed from inside as well. Therefore, the major reason why a black widow spider attacks or bites is for self-defense or whenever it senses the threat. Other than that, they don’t attack humans on their own.

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    Controlling Black Widow Spiders

    Black widow spiders are one of the most venomous spiders in North America. Even when they don’t prey or attack their own, their existence can be quite dangerous for your kids and other family members. That is why everyone wants some safe tips through which they can get control of the black widow spiders or help you get rid of them. We understand your pain, as everyone wants to get rid of them. Who would like to keep venomous spiders in their house or in their surroundings, right? Here are some ways to control them!

  • The best way is to remove things in which they can hide, like plants and rocks from within your house. You can keep them outside, but try that they are not inside your house.

  • When you are handling things in which black widow spiders might hide, it is always better to wear gloves and cover your arms as well.

  • If you love gardening firewood and pine straw, try to do that while wearing gloves.

  • Don’t walk in your garden without shoes.

  • Vacuum cleaner Keep your storage areas clean. Don’t let them clutter. Also keep the corners of doors, windows and the underside of your furniture clean. Dust or vacuum them on a routine basis like once in a month.

  • With the help of a vacuum cleaner, remove all the webs that you see in your home. Don’t try to do it manually as it can result in dangerous situations. Always stay on the safer side.

  • Seal all the openings in your house and also install door sweeps or screens so that unwanted spiders or other insects do not move inside and outside your home.

  • Also, trim the weeds which come on the sides of the buildings and also remove debris as it encourages growth and habitat of black widow spiders. They usually spin webs in debris.

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    Reproduction and life cycle

    Black widow spiders mating The reproduction system of a black widow spider is extremely interesting and unique. Female black widow spiders are identical to all the other vertebrates. They do contain an ovary and also have a passage (an abdominal passage, to be accurate). This passage is responsible for delivering the eggs to the exterior of the black widow spider. Passage acts similar to the uterus of any other vertebrate. The female black widow spider also has sperm storage. This helps the female to store all the sperms, to fertilize her eggs.

    Coming to the male black widow spider, he first spins the web and then puts a small quantity of semen on it. The male spider then charges his sexual organs or his palps with his sperm. He then abandons his habitat and spends a lot of effort and a long time span to search for a female. Once the male spider has found a female of his species, he starts the courtship. He vibrates the web of the female spider to confirm that she is of his species. It is a sign for the female black widow spider that the male is here for mating. This way, the female black widow spider opens for mating with the male spider.

    Mating takes place when the male spider inserts his palps in the spermathecal openings of the female spider. When the male mates, gametes released on to the eggs! This is what fertilizes the eggs and the eggs placed in a sac. This shape usually looks like a pear. Female black widow spider guards the pear shape egg sack after mating. Within this egg sac, the eggs hatch and the babies, better known as spider lings come out of it.

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    Spiderlings (babies)

    Spider lings are the babies of black widow spider. Per egg sac, each black widow spider lays almost 255 eggs maximum. From these eggs, hardly 12 survive. There are almost 8 egg sacs that a female black widow spider hatches in summer. When they come out of their egg sac, they have to go through a process known as instars. This is basically the molting procedure.

    Babies of black widow spider

    Mostly, the spider lings remain immature throughout the winter but get mature fully when the spring arrives. Spider lings look similar to the male black widow spiders and are orange and white in coloration. The female spider lings change their color and turn black as they mature with the passage of time. Black widow babies or spider lings are cannibalistic as they consume other babies for blood and their required nutrients. This is also a major reason why a hardly some spider lings are able to survive from a large number of 250.

    Black widow on a flower The spider lings which survive leave the web within some days. At the time they leave the web, they experience a process, better known as ballooning. Ballooning is all about the spider lings releasing strands of silk from their bodies. This silk released into the air which carries them off to different and new locations. After the ballooning process and finding their own specific new locations, the black widow spider lings start to spin their webs. They also start feeding themselves on their own. This means that they start capturing their own food. However, even when they have spanned their own web, they find some place to hide so that they can survive through winters. Once the warm weather arrives, they are mature and all grown up. After this maturing time period, the male black widow spider lasts for only a month or two. However, a matured female black widow spider might survive for the next six months or a complete year.

    The actual lifetime of black widow spiders is a year or just a year and a half, but some species within the black widow spider genre have stated to last for up to three years. Black widow spiders live longer when they are in captivity.


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