Black Widow Spiders: Facts About The Arachnid

Know more about black widow spiders

Here are some of the amazing facts about black widow spiders that are one of the most popular kinds belonging to the Latrodectus group.

Based on the article in Mental Floss, a black widow spider is not entirely black with a reddish hourglass mark on the abdomen. The female often has a glossy black color but it can also display dark brown or gray shades while the male often has a brown or gray body with red, yellow, or white spots or bands on the abdomen.

Only female spiders bite, usually, because the male is more reclusive. Although both males and females have venom glands, which are 15 times more toxic than the prairie rattlesnake’s venom, they are not considered aggressive and they will only bite if they feel threatened. However, the quantity of venom when the spider bites is significantly smaller than a snake bite.

black widow spiders
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The bites of black widow spiders are serious but they are rarely fatal. However, children, older people, and people with compromised immune systems may experience more severe reactions, including muscle spasms and seizures. It is advised that the bite should be treated by a medical professional.

Due to medical advancement, an antivenom was already discovered. In this process, horses helped. Experts inject small, controlled amounts of black widow spider venom into horses. This triggers an immune response. Then, horses generate antibodies. After that, this is harvested and used to manufacture antivenom for humans.

Experts have recorded 30 species of black widow spiders and its spiderlings do not look like the adult ones. Baby spiders have unique patterns and colors. Instead of red markings, the spiderlings often have yellowish markings on their bodies. Their appearance gradually changes when they become adults.

Their tangle webs are effective in ensnaring insects and other small creatures and these are strong enough to hold a female spider’s egg sac, which is typically filled with hundreds of eggs. They liquefy their prey first before eating them by injecting them with their powerful digestive enzymes. Then, they suck up the liquid and what is left is the exoskeleton.

Male black widow spiders are often eaten after mating. They are smaller than female spiders. Because of this, “black widow” is the name of this spider. However, this situation does not often occur as most people perceive.

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