Anti-Caturday: Pledge allegiance to…

Black Widow Spider courtesy of Peter Baer
Black Widow Spider courtesy of Peter Baer

… the black widow. *add a touch of heavy metal guitar*

So I’ve been stuck on the furry, cute mammal portion of the animal kingdom for a while now and I thought I’d give you something different for a change.

Unlike commonly thought, the widow spiders are not one species, but a whole genus spanning 31 recognized species of spider. The thing they all have in common is the sexual cannibalism that gives them their nickname. In other words – in case you haven’t yet heard – when the spiders mate the male looses his head. Quite literally.

The black widow of course is the most famous of all the Latrodectus spiders. Unlike previously thought, there are three distinct species of the black widow spider (the southern, northern and western black widows) all native to North America and Mexico. They all also have in common the glossy black body, coupled with red markings on the abdomen.

Their poison is very effective seeing as they are so very small. The larger female has much bigger venom sacs and is therefore likely to cause latrodectism and very rarely death when they bite humans. They may not be cute in the true sense of the word but there is certainly beauty there.

Black Widow 2 courtesy of Jeremy Hall
Black Widow 2 courtesy of Jeremy Hall
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