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Widow (Latrodectus)

The Latrodectus genus, a part of the cobweb spider family, has species that are combinedly called true widows. The World Spider Catalog recognizes 31 species in this genus as per the July 2017 records. They occur in every continent apart from Antarctica. The black widow varieties like the northern black widow (Latrodectus various), western black widow (Latrodectus Hesperus), and southern black widow (Latrodectus mactans) are found throughout the U.S. alongside regions of southern Canada.

Widow Spider

Spiders Belonging To This Genus 

Latrodectus antheratus Latrodectus apicalis Red Widow (Latrodectus bishopi)
Latrodectus cinctus Latrodectus corallinus Latrodectus curacaviensis
Latrodectus dahli Latrodectus diaguita Latrodectus elegans
Latrodectus erythromelas Brown Widow (Latrodectus geometricus) Latrodectus hasselti
Western Black Widow (Latrodectus hesperus) Latrodectus hystrix Latrodectus indistinctus
Latrodectus karrooensis Latrodectus katipo Latrodectus lilianae
Southern Black Widow (Latrodectus mactans) Latrodectus menavodi Latrodectus mirabilis
Latrodectus obscurior White Widow (Latrodectus pallidus) Latrodectus quartus
Latrodectus renivulvatus Latrodectus revivensis Latrodectus rhodesiensis
Latrodectus thoracicus Latrodectus tredecimguttatus Latrodectus variegatus
Northern Black Widow (Latrodectus variolus)

Physical Description & Identification

Adults

Size: They vary in size; for instance, the black widow spiders are 3mm to 10 mm (0.12 inches to 0.39 inches) long. The red widow, on the other hand, is has a length of approximately 12.7 mm (0.5 inches).

Color: The females have a shiny black or dark brown body with an orange or red pattern on the underside (ventral part) of their abdomen. Some, however, possess a pale brown coloration, while few may not possess any bright markings. The males display red and white or red spots or stripes on the upper (dorsal) abdominal area.

Other Characteristic Features: The females often show an hourglass pattern on their abdomen.

Eggs

The eggs remain wrapped in a pear-shaped or spherical or spherical silken sac.

Spiderlings

The juveniles mostly resemble the males in terms of their color patterns.

The Web

They have an irregular, messy, sticky, tangled web and remain hanging in an upside-down posture in a bid to capture their prey. Their eyesight is poor, and they mostly rely on vibrations that they would sense through their webs.

Are The Species of the Widow (Latrodectus) Genus Poisonous and Do They Bite

The females have large venom glands, and their bite could cause harm to humans, but no fatalities have been recorded to date. Of all the species belonging to this genus, the black widow is the most dangerous since their venom has a substance named latrotoxin, which can cause severe symptoms.

Quick Facts

LifespanApproximately 1 to 3 years
Distribution Parts of Asia, North America, South America, Australia, and Africa
HabitatDark, desolate places like rock and woodpiles, fallen branches, as well as outhouses, basements, garages, and sheds.
PredatorsWasps, flies, and birds
DietSmall insects

Did You Know

  • Spiders of the Steatoda genus are often confused with widow spiders since they are often called false widows. The former is not as harmful to humans as the latter.

Image Credits: tripsavvy.com

The Latrodectus genus, a part of the cobweb spider family, has species that are combinedly called true widows. The World Spider Catalog recognizes 31 species in this genus as per the July 2017 records. They occur in every continent apart from Antarctica. The black widow varieties like the northern black widow (Latrodectus various), western black widow (Latrodectus Hesperus), and southern black widow (Latrodectus mactans) are found throughout the U.S. alongside regions of southern Canada.

Widow Spider

Spiders Belonging To This Genus 

Latrodectus antheratus Latrodectus apicalis Red Widow (Latrodectus bishopi)
Latrodectus cinctus Latrodectus corallinus Latrodectus curacaviensis
Latrodectus dahli Latrodectus diaguita Latrodectus elegans
Latrodectus erythromelas Brown Widow (Latrodectus geometricus) Latrodectus hasselti
Western Black Widow (Latrodectus hesperus) Latrodectus hystrix Latrodectus indistinctus
Latrodectus karrooensis Latrodectus katipo Latrodectus lilianae
Southern Black Widow (Latrodectus mactans) Latrodectus menavodi Latrodectus mirabilis
Latrodectus obscurior White Widow (Latrodectus pallidus) Latrodectus quartus
Latrodectus renivulvatus Latrodectus revivensis Latrodectus rhodesiensis
Latrodectus thoracicus Latrodectus tredecimguttatus Latrodectus variegatus
Northern Black Widow (Latrodectus variolus)

Physical Description & Identification

Adults

Size: They vary in size; for instance, the black widow spiders are 3mm to 10 mm (0.12 inches to 0.39 inches) long. The red widow, on the other hand, is has a length of approximately 12.7 mm (0.5 inches).

Color: The females have a shiny black or dark brown body with an orange or red pattern on the underside (ventral part) of their abdomen. Some, however, possess a pale brown coloration, while few may not possess any bright markings. The males display red and white or red spots or stripes on the upper (dorsal) abdominal area.

Other Characteristic Features: The females often show an hourglass pattern on their abdomen.

Eggs

The eggs remain wrapped in a pear-shaped or spherical or spherical silken sac.

Spiderlings

The juveniles mostly resemble the males in terms of their color patterns.

The Web

They have an irregular, messy, sticky, tangled web and remain hanging in an upside-down posture in a bid to capture their prey. Their eyesight is poor, and they mostly rely on vibrations that they would sense through their webs.

Are The Species of the Widow (Latrodectus) Genus Poisonous and Do They Bite

The females have large venom glands, and their bite could cause harm to humans, but no fatalities have been recorded to date. Of all the species belonging to this genus, the black widow is the most dangerous since their venom has a substance named latrotoxin, which can cause severe symptoms.

Quick Facts

LifespanApproximately 1 to 3 years
Distribution Parts of Asia, North America, South America, Australia, and Africa
HabitatDark, desolate places like rock and woodpiles, fallen branches, as well as outhouses, basements, garages, and sheds.
PredatorsWasps, flies, and birds
DietSmall insects

Did You Know

  • Spiders of the Steatoda genus are often confused with widow spiders since they are often called false widows. The former is not as harmful to humans as the latter.

Image Credits: tripsavvy.com

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