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Facts About Black Widow for Kids

Black widow spiders are infamous in popular culture for being unnervingly stealthy, deadly toxic predators capable of killing a person with a single bite. Black widow spiders are a genus of arachnids notable for their distinct and striking look and their reputed propensity to eat their mate. 

These spiders are known for their red hourglass form on the base of their abdomen and are found worldwide, with at least five species identified in the United States. Although deaths are rare, the black widow’s venom is 15 times stronger than a rattlesnake and can cause spasms, nausea, and troubled breathing. 

A chemical called alpha-latrotoxin in its venom overwhelms nerve cells and causes excruciating agony. When the chemical reaches a nerve cell, it overwhelms its neighbors by dumping all of its neurotransmitters at once. 

What Do Black Widows Look Like?

Male and female black widow spiders look very different from each other but similar to other types of spiders. Almost all black widow spiders are about 1.5″ long, weigh about 0.035 ounces, and have dark, hourglass-shaped bodies with red, brown, or white markings. 

Black widow

The females’ curvaceous marking can also be orange-yellow. On the other hand, Males are lighter in color, with smaller abdomens that may have pink or markings. While the female spiders extend up to 13mm, males are normally half of their size!

#1 Male Vs. Female

Female black widow spiders outsize their male counterparts. It’s assumed that the female spider can pierce vertebral skin more successfully than males, discharging more poison when they bite. It is believed that the Lactrodectus spiders perform cannibalism by killing the male spiders after mating. This belief is so strong that the ‘black widow’ species has become equivalent to a vixen, who seduces her mate with the intent to harm. 

#2 Size And Weight

Black widows are normally black spiders with two reddish polygonal patterns on the bottom of their stomach that are commonly connected to a deep red elongated shape – their most distinct attribute. 

Females are sometimes brownish-black. Most black widow spiders are 3-10 mm long, with females being fractionally larger than males. Black widow spiders have eight eyes (two touches nearly) and eight legs. 

Where Do Black Widows Live? 

Black widow spiders are generally found in Canada and some parts of North America in the US. They can be found in Mojave, Sonoran, Great Basin, and Chihuahuan, are also often found in Texas and Florida. Black widow spiders are solitary and timid. 

They spin webs in the dark, unobstructed areas and are commonly found under old furniture, holes, pine logs, and rarely in used spaces such as barns, lofts, and underground bunkers. Generally, you would find the webs of a female black widow spider near to the surface. 

When she finds a good spot and makes her web, she will often spend a lot of time in or around it. She will hang with her tummy up within the web most of the time, making it easier to recognize the hourglass mark. This also dissuades predators, who notice the bright color and choose not to eat her. 

How Long Do Black Widows Live?

Although black widow spiders are expected to live for a year, some species have been known to live for three years. This is because they live the longest in captivity.

How Many Black Widow Species Are There?

Black widow spiders are part of the Theridiidae family. These spiders get their name owing to a series of firm, tiny hairs on the last section of their fourth pair of legs that look like the fangs of a comb. 

The Latrodectus genus typically comprises 31 species of widow spiders, 5 of which are black widows. They are called black widows in North America and can be identified as Latrodectus Variolus in the north, Latrodectus mactans in the south, and Latrodectus Hesperus in the west.

Black Widow Bite – How Toxic Is It?

Female black widows bites are more dangerous to humans because they are larger than males. A black widow’s venom is 15 times more lethal than rattlesnake toxin, but as spiders produce far less poison than snakes, their stings, while excruciating, pose a grave risk only to children and the old.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of A Black Widow Spider Bite?

Some of the most common symptoms of a black widow spider bite result in swelling and discoloration at the bite site, followed by mild to intense pain and one or two small fang marks that closely mimic tiny red spots. 

Extreme bite symptoms that appear from ½ hour to an hour include nausea/vomiting, shivers, fever, intense chest/stomach/back pain, state of confusion, discontent, shock, headache, and extremely high blood pressure.

What Should I Do If A Black Widow Spider Bites Me?

If you believe that a black widow’s bitten you, get immediate medical aid, remain calm, and apply ice to the affected area. It is advised not to use any bandage in such a case because it could have side effects. Instead, ensure that you identify the spider to administer the right medicine to counteract the sting.

How Is A Black Widow Spider Bite Diagnosed?

A body check and questions about the bite identify a black widow spider bite. Be ready to share details of your key symptoms, when they occurred, progressed, or changed since the bite, with your doctor. You should also be prepared to describe the spider, the place and timing of the bite, and what you’re involved in at the time. 

How Is It Treated?

An antivenom (medicine) to mitigate black widow spider poison is used to treat difficulty in breathing, regulate high blood pressure, and if you are pregnant. The treatment also contains administering pain relief medication, which may necessitate the application of diazepam or lorazepam, morphine, or calcium. For blood pressure, you can use anti-hypertensive medications.

What Do Black Widows Eat?

You would be aware that other species of spiders eat insects. The same is in the case of black widows. However, cockroaches, caterpillars, grasshoppers, beetles, ants, scorpions, and more are considered the only food source. 

How Do Black Widows Reproduce?

Black widow spiders copulate by implanting the palpal bulbs of the male species into the female’s spermathecal cavity. When widow spider egg sacs hatch, spiderlings slowly turn to blacken as they molt, from skin tone to grey, mostly with beige or white designs. Female spiderlings take time to mature compared to the male kids and ultimately turn red and black.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

What Does A Black Widow Spider Web Look Like?

The uneven web of a black widow may seem unorganized, but it is carefully orchestrated and built-in reality. The web is split into three systemic levels, with strong supporting strings securing the web at the top, making it hard for flying bait and foreign objects to tear the web free. The middle area of the web is a thicket of threads, and the bottom section is where the upright traps for crawling prey are knit.

What Animal Kills And Eats Black Widow Spiders?

Small animals, birds, and wasps prey on black widow spiders.

How To Get Rid Of Black Widows?

To begin with, identify the spider and its habits. Next, comprehend the perils of being bitten by a black widow. Third, get rid of the egg sacs. Finally, clean the identified areas by vacuuming, dusting, and clearing all clutter by implementing dust applications and liquid treatments like insecticides or orders for professional extermination.

How Many Spiders Are In A Black Widow Egg?

Each egg sac includes a smaller sac roughly a centimeter and contains approx. Two hundred fifty eggs can hatch in about two weeks.

Why Are Black Widows Important For Biodiversity?

These spiders help maintain the ecosystem’s balance by feeding off insects harmful to plants and vegetation.


Black widow spiders usually abstain from raiding homes. Still, they prefer living in manufactured constructs like barnyards, outhouses, and sheds. They also like taking refuge under outdoor lavatories, owing to the smell that attracts other insects and flies to prey.

We’ve highlighted some of the most commonly asked questions about the black widow species and how you can identify as well as keep them away from your immediate surroundings.

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