What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

beautiful tennessee spider
Hello,
This is actually a re-posting* so I can provide more information in hopes that you’ll be able to identify this beauty. Picture was taken June 11, 2005, in Crossville, TN (Cumberland Plateau area) in a wooded area. The spider’s body is very shiny black, hairless and a little smaller than dime. I’ve looked everywhere on the web and can’t seem to find it. The Australian Red-back comes close, but what would that be doing in Tennessee?? Hopefully, you can solve this mystery.
Thanks,
Melinda Z
*I showed the picture at a friendly gathering last night and in the heat of the moment, my friend sent you the picture without much info. We all really want to know what kind of spider this is!

Hi Melinda,
Over the years we have gotten letter describing a spider that looked like a Black Widow but with hearts on its back. Yours is the first photo we have received substantiating this. Of course, it does look exactly like a Black Widow, but we could find no information on the Heart shaped markings. So, when in doubt, we wrote to Eric Eaton. Here is his response: “This is indeed a black widow, the Southern Black Widow, Latrodectus mactans. Many females have red markings on the top of the abdomen like this. The hourglass mark is on the UNDERSIDE, so apparently the folks who say there is no hourglass hadn’t looked at the belly of the beast:-) Additionally, Northern Black Widows, L. variolus, have a broken hourglass on the belly, and often red stripes and spots on the back. They are generally smaller than other widow species. Lastly, widows begin as WHITE spiderlings with various darker markings. As they age they darken, but may retain several red markings. Older individuals may have few if any markings other than the hourglass. Female widows may easily live two or more years in the wild. Hope this clarifies. Eric”

Thanks for the quick response. It’s a black widow after all: southern bell!!

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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

7 Responses to Widow with Hearts!!!!! Southern Belle

  1. Steve Carras says:

    Nice picture. Nice spider-looking, that is, but not if you touch.

  2. Kerry says:

    We recently found one of these on our tent while camping in Arkansas. We were hoping it was an impersonator, but thanks to this post we now know it was in fact a black widow (eeks!!). We only saw the three hearts on the back and definitely didn’t play with it to see the hourglass on the underside.

  3. Victoria says:

    I recently found one in Clarksville, TN. I have a pic. I knew it was a black widow, but didn’t see the hearts until after its demise. I hate spiders, but it IS pretty cool to see. Holler at me if you’d like the pic sent to you.

  4. Mandy says:

    I found one exactly like that in my yard in Michigan. :/ Not to happy to find out it was a black widow.

  5. Richie says:

    I just found this exact spider on the back of my house in Charlotte NC. Beautiful!! Gonna leave it alone ……

    • bugman says:

      Just be aware that the venom of a Black Widow bite can pose a danger to young children and the elderly.

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