Black Widow

Black Widow Spiders (Most Common In San Bernardino County)

Black widows are identified by red hourglass markings on the underside of their abdomens. Black widows are shiny black in color. Females are larger than males and can measure up to 10 millimeters in length. These spiders are members of the genus Latrodectus.

  • Black widow spiders favor dark, secluded areas such as crevices and woodpiles. They thrive primarily in temperate zones and are known to live in the American South. They may also be found in locations as remote as Canada.
  • Five species of Latrodectus or "widow" spiders are present in North America. The most common is the southern widow, or Latrodectus mactans, and is found in the American South and Northeast. The Latrodectus Hesperus is more populous in the west and the Latrodectus variolus, or northern widow, is found more commonly in the American Northeast. There are two species that are primarily found in Florida. These are the "red widow" or Latrodectus bishopi and the "brown widow" or Latrodectus geometricus.
  • Although black widow spiders are named for the female's propensity to kill the male after mating, this behavior rarely occurs outside of captivity. In laboratories and cages, females and males are kept in extremely close proximity. In natural conditions, males almost always successfully elude females after mating.
  • Male black widow spiders are considered innocuous, as their venomous organs are not used after they reach maturity. However, females are capable of injecting venom. In extreme cases, the venom of the black widow spider severely weakens the nerves and the brain, leading to impaired breathing, body aches and nausea. Death is more likely in very young or old individuals.
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