Facts about Black Widow Spiders

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8 legs, 1 small body and fangs with deadly venom, make the perfect recipe for quick death.

No, we are not talking black magic potions here. Just an existing, tiny animal that carries indescribable fear with its name. The Black Widow spider.Black widow spiders fall under the group of cobweb spiders. These spiders spin webs that appear messy and disorganized, and are hence called so.

These spiders have 8 eyes, 8 legs, a small body and venomous fangs called “chelicerae”.

Black Widow Spiders can be found at home in dark and undisturbed places of the house just as often as they are found outdoors. So if you ever find one lurking behind old papers in your basement, just remember one thing, run!

Here are a few interesting facts about these spiders.

1. Black widow spiders’ taxonomy.

Kingdom- Animalia

Phylum- Arthropoda

Class- Arachnida

Order- Araneae

Family- Theridiidae

Genus- Latrodectus

Species- Mactans

2. Male and female Black Widow spiders look different.

The female Black Widow spiders are almost 3 to 10mm in length. The male spiders are however much smaller in comparison. The females are black in color and have a characteristic red hourglass on their abdomen. The males change their color and patterns as they mature.

3. The Black Widow spider does not bite humans unless threatened.

A Black Widow spider generally bites humans only when pinched along the entire length of its body. This happens when humans accidentally sit on the spiders or unknowingly squeeze their body resulting in spider fang marks.

4. The bite of the spider is not deadly to humans.

Although dangerous, the venom of the spider is not lethal to all humans. The spiders can control the amount of venom injected and do so only when their lives are in great danger. Most Black Widow spider bites cause symptoms that can be medicated at home or with hospitalization. It is only in rare cases that the venom proves to be fatal.

5. The Black Widow spider is known for its morbid mating behavior.

Black Widows are solitary creatures except during the mating season.  After mating, the females often eat their male counterparts to provide their developing offspring a rich protein source for growth. The baby spiders that are born are also cannibalistic and only few survive.

6. The spiders communicate with each other using pheromones.

The spiders communicate through vibrations and various other complex messages. The female spiders line their silk with chemicals called pheromones. This chemical attracts the male to the female.

7. Black Widow spiders are carnivorous.

Black Widow spiders eat other arachnids and insects by capturing them on her web. Once the prey has been caught, the spider injects digestive enzymes into its body and wraps it up with silk. The prey is then consumed once it liquefies and softens. The spider’s belly expands to accommodate its meal.

They may also eat animals larger than themselves such as grasshoppers, cockroaches and scorpions.

8. This spider’s venom has neurotoxic effects on humans.

Neurotoxic substances or neurotoxins are defined as chemical substances that affect the functioning of the neurological tissues and system. The bite results in nausea, severe abdominal and back pain along with hypertension and paralysis of the diaphragm making it difficult to breathe.

9. Life span of the Black Widow spider is about 1 to 3 years.

Most spiders live only for a year. The male spiders live for only few months. There are however some cases of spiders, that have lived for 3 years. Generally, Black Widow spiders live longest in captivity.

10. The Black Widow spider is called so due to its mating behavior.

The Black Widow spider gets its name due to the fact that it eats up the male spider after mating. This however, occurs mostly when the spiders are held in captivity.

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