ANIMAL:Southern Black Widow Spider Latrodectus mactans
Type of Animal:
Barns, woodpiles, stone wall crevices, recesses, dimly lit areas in homes, rubble, hollow logs, loose bark, holes, stones, burrows, small trees, bushes, crawl spaces, water meters, sheds, wells, root cellars, drainage pipes, cardboard boxes, rarely-worn shoes, garages, attics, pipe holes, doors, air vents, basements, false ceilings, dark corners, storage spaces, cluttered areas, closets, rock piles, hollow stumps, outhouses, cotton fields, homes, trash, dumps, under stones/logs, holes in dirt embankments, small animal holes, dense vegetation, brush, construction openings, under desks, behind furniture, low shrubs, room/garage/outbuilding corners
Ranges as far W as Arizona & found in all SE & SC US-found as far N as SE New York & S Midwest. Also found in far NE Mexico. Introduced in Hawaii.
Females shiny black w/ red hourglass marking on underside of very round abdomen, many females have orange/red patch just above spinnerets on top of abdomen, juveniles have grayish to black abdomen w/ white stripes running across & spotted w/ yellow & orange, males either look like juveniles or are purplish, males smaller than females, new spiderlings white
Insects, woodlice, millipedes, centipedes, other spiders (including each other), scorpions
Status in Wild:
Male: 0.0035 oz
Female: 0.035 oz
1 monthLife Span:
Males: 2-5 months
Females: 1.5-2.5 years
Male: 0.24 in
Female: 0.49 in
Main predators of adults are mantids, wasps, alligator lizards, birds, scorpions (in fights to death w/ whoever dies 1st being eaten), large centipedes, & small mammals. Parasitic wasps & parasitic chloropid flies parasitize egg sacs. Females often eat smaller males.
Like relatives, they construct sticky irregular silk webs to ensnare prey.
Females create papery egg sacs containing 200-900 eggs.
Few make it to adulthood due to cannibalism.
Webs are as strong as steel.
Called Black Widows due to common habit of female eating male after mating.
While dangerous, notoriety highly exaggerated & fatalities rare (less than 1% of people die from bites). Very shy spiders only biting in self-defense-1st choices fleeing/playing dead. However, if bitten, seek immediate medical attention-potent venom attacks nervous system. Dangerous bites always females since male/juvenile mouthparts not big/strong enough to inject venom. Bites painful followed by swelling/redness at bite site. More severe symptoms appear within 30-60 minutes including muscle cramps/spasms, chills, fever, nausea, vomiting, sweating, severe chest/belly/back pain, headache, severe high blood pressure, stupor, restlessness, & shock. Bites sometimes dry w/o any venom injected.