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Southern Black Widow (Latrodectus mactans)

The southern black widow, commonly known as black widow, is endemic to North America. Although, the name of the spices evokes fear in people, the spider is not specifically aggressive; it doesn’t bite without a purpose.

Southern Black Widow

Scientific Classification

Physical Description and Identification

Adult

Size: Females are mostly 0.39-0.49 in (1-1.25 cm) including their leg span while males are around 0.23 in (0.6 cm)

Southern Black Widow Size

Color: Black body with red tinges on the abdomen

Other Characteristic Features: The abdomen exhibits a red hourglass motif. Males have longer legs than females.

Southern Black Widow Male
Southern Black Widow Female

Eggs

Female southern black widows create egg sacs in beige shade sizing 0.39-0.49 in. 200-220 eggs are released inside the sacs and all the eggs are around 0.03 in in diameter. The incubation period is generally a month after which spiderlings emerge.

Southern Black Widow Egg Sac

Spiderlings

All spiderlings have a whitish complexion at first which gradually develops into black shade with every molt. The distinctive hourglass red spot or other marks usually common in adults are also missing in spiderlings.

The Web

Southern black widows create messy webs in crevices during the day. The spiders hang upside down from the web.

Southern Black Widow Web

Are Southern Black Widows Poisonous

The spider has neurotoxic venom which affects the nervous system for a certain period, but it rarely cause death.

Southern Black Widow Habitat

Quick Facts

Other Names Shoe-button spider, black widow
Distribution Southeastern province of United States and southeastern Canada
Habitat Rodent burrows, rock and wood piles
Lifespan Females: 3-4 years
Males: 3-4 months
Breeding Season Spring and summer
Predators Blue mud dauber, spider wasp, centipede, brown widow spiders
Diet Woodlice,mice, millipedes,and centipedes
IUCN Conservation Status Not listed
Southern Black Widow Spider

Did You Know

  • In spite of its deadly reputation, the spider is actually shy and not an instinctive biter.
  • It has got the name from its tendency to eat the male counterpart post copulation, although this activity is not so common in the wild, rather in captivity this is a frequent occurrence.

Image Credits: Entnemdept.ifas.ufl.edu, Venombyte.com, Bugguide.net, Static.inaturalist.org, Spiderid.com, Farm9.staticflickr.com, Thoughtco.com, Upload.wikimedia.org, Cisr.ucr.edu

The southern black widow, commonly known as black widow, is endemic to North America. Although, the name of the spices evokes fear in people, the spider is not specifically aggressive; it doesn’t bite without a purpose.

Southern Black Widow

Physical Description and Identification

Adult

Size: Females are mostly 0.39-0.49 in (1-1.25 cm) including their leg span while males are around 0.23 in (0.6 cm)

Southern Black Widow Size

Color: Black body with red tinges on the abdomen

Other Characteristic Features: The abdomen exhibits a red hourglass motif. Males have longer legs than females.

Southern Black Widow Male
Southern Black Widow Female

Eggs

Female southern black widows create egg sacs in beige shade sizing 0.39-0.49 in. 200-220 eggs are released inside the sacs and all the eggs are around 0.03 in in diameter. The incubation period is generally a month after which spiderlings emerge.

Southern Black Widow Egg Sac

Spiderlings

All spiderlings have a whitish complexion at first which gradually develops into black shade with every molt. The distinctive hourglass red spot or other marks usually common in adults are also missing in spiderlings.

The Web

Southern black widows create messy webs in crevices during the day. The spiders hang upside down from the web.

Southern Black Widow Web

Are Southern Black Widows Poisonous

The spider has neurotoxic venom which affects the nervous system for a certain period, but it rarely cause death.

Southern Black Widow Habitat

Quick Facts

Other Names Shoe-button spider, black widow
Distribution Southeastern province of United States and southeastern Canada
Habitat Rodent burrows, rock and wood piles
Lifespan Females: 3-4 years
Males: 3-4 months
Breeding Season Spring and summer
Predators Blue mud dauber, spider wasp, centipede, brown widow spiders
Diet Woodlice,mice, millipedes,and centipedes
IUCN Conservation Status Not listed
Southern Black Widow Spider

Did You Know

  • In spite of its deadly reputation, the spider is actually shy and not an instinctive biter.
  • It has got the name from its tendency to eat the male counterpart post copulation, although this activity is not so common in the wild, rather in captivity this is a frequent occurrence.

Image Credits: Entnemdept.ifas.ufl.edu, Venombyte.com, Bugguide.net, Static.inaturalist.org, Spiderid.com, Farm9.staticflickr.com, Thoughtco.com, Upload.wikimedia.org, Cisr.ucr.edu

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