Black Widow Spiders
Description: The body of the female black widow is about ½ inch long, glossy with a nearly globe-like abdomen. The abdomen has two triangular red spots on its underside arranged in such a way that the spots look like an hourglass.
Biology: Black widow spiders lay their eggs in silken sacs which they protect in their nests. A female produces from 6 to 21 sacs during her lifetime, each containing 185 to 464 eggs. The young spiderlings remain in the case until the second molt. They live in the vicinity of the nest for two to three weeks before producing long threads of silk that help them float away, much like kites float. Females live up to three years and males approximately 180 days.
Habits: Black widows are shy, preferring to build their webs in a dry protected location where their prey is likely to travel. Outdoors they can be found among rocks and wood piles, under decks, in hollow stumps, rodent burrows, beneath benches, etc. They prefer basements, crawls spaces, and garages in structures as well as other protected areas. Females often eat the males after mating, thus giving them their rather morbid name. Females produce a neurotoxin poison, and do bite if disturbed or handled roughly. Each year several deaths are attributed to the bite of black widow spiders a result of anaphylactic reactions. However, in most cases, the bite is no worse than a wasp sting.
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