Black widow spiders are feared by many. That fear is justified because they have potent venom. The venom of the black widow spider is extremely toxic, even more toxic that that of a rattlesnake. Even with that fact, a bite from a black widow spider rarely causes death. They only inject a tiny amount of venom and the mortality rate is well under 1%. Those very few that do die after being bitten by a black widow spider are almost always very young, very old or ill. Female black widows are larger than males and nearly all medically significant black widow bites are inflicted by female spiders. Male widow spiders are rarely cause for concern. Many experts state that they don’t even bite. Much of what you think about black widow spiders is probably more fiction that fact.
Facts & Myths About Black Widow Spiders
• Probably the most widely known belief about female black widows is that they always eat their mates. It’s actually how they got their name. This behavior has been observed in lab settings where the male was unable to escape. In the wild, this behavior is rarely seen.
• These spiders are called black widows, but they aren’t always black. Black widows belong to the genus Lactrodectus and there are 31 species of them worldwide. In the United States, these include a brown widow and a red widow. Most black widow spiders can be identified by a red hourglass marking on their abdomen, but not all of them. In most species, this marking is bright red or orange, in sharp contrast to its shiny black abdomen. The hourglass marking may have breaks in it or be incomplete in certain species, and the red widow, doesn’t have this marking at all. It’s important to be wary of any spider that you suspect is a widow spider.
• Many people believe that black widow spiders are aggressive, and with their reputation it’s easy to believe that. In reality, they are not. They are actually shy and solitary and want to be left alone. They like to stay hidden and are rarely seen during the day as they are nocturnal. If they do bite, it’s because they have been trapped or startled.
• Black widow spiders have poor eyesight. They will use their webs to “see” what’s going on around them. Black widow spiders will hide in corners or holes. Her web is created as an extension of her retreat. She will then rely on vibrations from her web when prey encounters it. Cool fact- male black widows will actually cut and rearrange the females’ web. This makes it hard for her to sense what’s happening and gives potential suitors an opening.
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Even though black widow spiders have become a symbol of things scary and dangerous, they aren’t all that bad. However, they are still venomous creatures that need to be treated with caution. If you notice spiders around your home contact A Five Star Termite & Pest Control. We can handle any spider problems!