Black widow spiders – Do you know them as well as you think? Did you know they can be brown? Also, they’re poisonous, but did you know they’re more scared of you than you are of them?
There are five kinds of widow spider in the USA, out of thirty-one total species. Oh, and nobody in the USA has ever died as a result of being bitten by any of these spiders.
- Black Widow (Latrodectus mactans) – Known as simply “black widow” or sometimes “southern black widow. The female of this species is known for colorful decorations, including the hourglass on her underside. These reside in the southeastern United State.
- Northern Black Widow (Latrodectus variolus) – Living in the middle Atlantic United States, the females of this species are beautifully decorated with colorful spots down the center of her back flanked by lateral stripes.
- Western Black Widow (Latrodectus hesperus) – This one call the western United States home and is the textbook image of a black widow; a large black bug with a bright red hourglass decoration.
- Red Widow Spider (Latrodectus bishopi) – You will probably never see this one, as it lives only in southern Florida and makes its home in sand dunes and pine trees. This one is entirely red except its abdomen, which is black with red spots lined by yellow rings.
- Brown Widow (Latrodectus geometricus) – As the name would suggest, these are not black. They’re hard to identify because the decorations on their abdomen vary greatly from bug to bug, but they do have the hourglass on their underside. In this case, the hourglass is usually bright orange instead of red.
Thumbnail image via Creative Commons 2.5 Chuck Evans