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Red Widow Spider (Latrodectus bishopi): Facts, Identification, & Pictures Red Widow Spider (Latrodectus bishopi): Facts, Identification, & Pictures
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Red Widow (Latrodectus bishopi)

Have you ever seen a bright red spider? There’s one called the Red Widow Spider, and it’s part of the ‘widow spider’ family. This special spider lives in just a few places in the United States. Stick around, and we’ll share fun facts about them!

Scientific Classification

Red Widow Spider

Physical Description and Identification

Adults

  • Size: Females are almost double the size of males with an average size of 0.5 inches along with a leg span of 1.5 to 2 inches.
  • Color: The cephalothorax has a bright reddish-orange coloration, while the abdomen has a solid black base color accompanied by yellow rings that outline red spot rows. The legs have a vermillion red complexion.
  • Other Characteristic Features: The abdomen is larger and rounder than the thorax, with four pairs of thin but strong legs attached compactly to both sides of the thorax.
Red Widow Spider Size

Eggs

After mating, the female widow spider lays the eggs wrapped in a spherical silken sac around ½ inch in diameter. The sac can contain anything between 200 and 400 eggs. Interestingly, a female can yield four to nine such sacs in a single summer. The mother takes care of the eggs by guarding the sacs while moving from one place to another within the web itself in order to maintain uniform humidity and temperature.

Spiderlings

It takes almost eight to ten days from the time the eggs were laid for the spiderlings to hatch. The young spiders go through one single molting process right inside the sac before emerging after around two to four weeks. The baby spiders disperse with a strand of silk by ballooning on air currents. The juveniles need to go through seven more molts before attaining the stage of sexual maturity.

Are Red Widow Spiders Venomous?

Like the other members of the genus Latrodectus, the red widows are indeed venomous; however, there has been no record of a bite of this species in the medical literature. They are mostly harmless to people.

Can Red Widow Spiders Bite?

Red Widow spiders can bite. If they do, it’s because they’re scared or startled. The bite might sting a bit, but it’s rare for them to bite humans.

Red Widow Spider Web

Ecological Importance and Behavior of Red Widow Spider

The Red Widow Spider plays a crucial role in maintaining ecological balance, primarily through its diet of flies and other small creatures caught in its web. Its unique web-building behavior, predominantly in palmetto bushes, showcases its adaptability and contributes to the biodiversity of its habitat.

Natural Predators and Prey-Predator Dynamics: This spider faces threats from natural predators such as birds of prey, larger spiders, and reptiles. These interactions contribute to the delicate balance within their ecosystem, illustrating the complex web of life in which they play a part.

Relationship with Humans: Generally, Red Widow Spiders maintain a respectful distance from human habitation. Their status as a threatened species in the United States underscores the importance of fostering a harmonious relationship and ensuring their conservation.

Quick Facts

LifespanMost females live about nine months but the males die after a couple of weeks or a little more
DistributionCentral and southern Florida, USA
HabitatMostly in the sand dunes dominated by sand pine vegetation; mostly make their webs in the palmetto bushes
Common predatorsBirds of prey, larger spiders and reptiles
DietFlies and other small creatures and arthropods that are caught in their webs
Red Widow Spider Picture

Photo Credit: Jake Scott

Did You Know

  • It has been declared as a threatened species in the United States.
  • Red widow spider webs are typically found at heights of more than 30 cm above the ground level.

In summary, Red Widow Spider stands as a vibrant and intriguing member of the widow spider family.

Have you ever seen a bright red spider? There’s one called the Red Widow Spider, and it’s part of the ‘widow spider’ family. This special spider lives in just a few places in the United States. Stick around, and we’ll share fun facts about them!

Red Widow Spider

Physical Description and Identification

Adults

  • Size: Females are almost double the size of males with an average size of 0.5 inches along with a leg span of 1.5 to 2 inches.
  • Color: The cephalothorax has a bright reddish-orange coloration, while the abdomen has a solid black base color accompanied by yellow rings that outline red spot rows. The legs have a vermillion red complexion.
  • Other Characteristic Features: The abdomen is larger and rounder than the thorax, with four pairs of thin but strong legs attached compactly to both sides of the thorax.
Red Widow Spider Size

Eggs

After mating, the female widow spider lays the eggs wrapped in a spherical silken sac around ½ inch in diameter. The sac can contain anything between 200 and 400 eggs. Interestingly, a female can yield four to nine such sacs in a single summer. The mother takes care of the eggs by guarding the sacs while moving from one place to another within the web itself in order to maintain uniform humidity and temperature.

Spiderlings

It takes almost eight to ten days from the time the eggs were laid for the spiderlings to hatch. The young spiders go through one single molting process right inside the sac before emerging after around two to four weeks. The baby spiders disperse with a strand of silk by ballooning on air currents. The juveniles need to go through seven more molts before attaining the stage of sexual maturity.

Are Red Widow Spiders Venomous?

Like the other members of the genus Latrodectus, the red widows are indeed venomous; however, there has been no record of a bite of this species in the medical literature. They are mostly harmless to people.

Can Red Widow Spiders Bite?

Red Widow spiders can bite. If they do, it’s because they’re scared or startled. The bite might sting a bit, but it’s rare for them to bite humans.

Red Widow Spider Web

Ecological Importance and Behavior of Red Widow Spider

The Red Widow Spider plays a crucial role in maintaining ecological balance, primarily through its diet of flies and other small creatures caught in its web. Its unique web-building behavior, predominantly in palmetto bushes, showcases its adaptability and contributes to the biodiversity of its habitat.

Natural Predators and Prey-Predator Dynamics: This spider faces threats from natural predators such as birds of prey, larger spiders, and reptiles. These interactions contribute to the delicate balance within their ecosystem, illustrating the complex web of life in which they play a part.

Relationship with Humans: Generally, Red Widow Spiders maintain a respectful distance from human habitation. Their status as a threatened species in the United States underscores the importance of fostering a harmonious relationship and ensuring their conservation.

Quick Facts

LifespanMost females live about nine months but the males die after a couple of weeks or a little more
DistributionCentral and southern Florida, USA
HabitatMostly in the sand dunes dominated by sand pine vegetation; mostly make their webs in the palmetto bushes
Common predatorsBirds of prey, larger spiders and reptiles
DietFlies and other small creatures and arthropods that are caught in their webs
Red Widow Spider Picture

Photo Credit: Jake Scott

Did You Know

  • It has been declared as a threatened species in the United States.
  • Red widow spider webs are typically found at heights of more than 30 cm above the ground level.

In summary, Red Widow Spider stands as a vibrant and intriguing member of the widow spider family.