Currently viewing the category: "Black Widow"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Black widow??? Not sure…
Hey Bugman…
I was diligently cleaning off a table on the patio when I came across what looks to be a black widow – but I am not certain because of the color and markings on the back. I saw the "hour glass" shape while it was pretending to be dead, but the spots when it flipped back over. I have come across this type of spider previously in another part of So. GA. Are you able to identify? Thanks!

Hi Amy,
This is the not quite as famous first cousin of the Black Widow, known as the Brown Widow, Latrodectus geometricus. BugGuide notes: “The brown widow is highly variable in color. It may be almost white to almost black. Typically, it is a light to medium brown, with an orange-to-yellow hourglass marking on the underside of the abdomen; the coloration of the hourglass often is a good indication of this species. The leg segments are banded, with one half of each segment lighter in color than the other half. The back often has a row of white spots (rarely orange or light blue), and there are a few white stripes on each side. Darker individuals lack these markings and are difficult to distinguish from black widows. ” This is an introduced species and according to BugGuide, it is found: “World wide in the tropical zone. It was introduced in Florida and has since been observed moving north through Georgia, and into South Carolina; it has also been officially recorded in California, Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas. ” Your photo also documents this behavior noted on BugGuide: “Brown widow spiders usually curl up into a ball, and drop to the ground as a primary defense. It is highly recommended that people leave this spider alone; observe, but don’t touch. “

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Black Widow?
I have had this big spider living outside of my front door for over a week and then tonight I saw the red hourglass marking and thought it may be a black widow, but as seen in the picture it is not completely black. Is this still as dangerous as I think? Thanks,

Hi Chris,
Black Widows are often not black until they attain adulthood. This Black Widow is immature or a male spider.

Correction:  July 9, 2018
Thanks to a comment from Genus 2.0, we now agree that this appears to be an immature Brown Widow.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

A rare treat, Western black widow male, female, and eggs in one photo!
Adult female, eggs and male – Latrodectus hesperus – Male Female El Mirage AZ, Maricopa County, Arizona, USA September 6, 2006 An adult female with egg sacks, and a closeby male. I could not believe she was staying put, maybe because she was guarding her eggs, she was quite alarmed at me. This is one of 4 adult females in my yard that I have found. Most of the time they run and hide when I approach. This was a treat!
Candy Cox

Hi Candy,
Thanks for sharing this wonderful domestic moment with our readership, many of whom appreciate family values. We are also thrilled to find there are others out there without widow phobia.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Amazing Mystery Spider and other Arachnids
Hello to a marvelous site, Let me state right up front that I find your site to be interesting, informative, entertaining and helpful. I have enjoyed looking at the photos and reading the data that you and others provide. As a new-comer to digital photography in general (and bug close-ups in particular), your site has been a gold mine for helping me identifing many of the small creatures I have photographed. I looked at every spider photo you have and nowhere have I seen anything that resembles the Mystery spider I found this past spring. I have googled every variation of “red and black spider, red legged spider, colorful spider, etc.” that I could think of with no success. I am hoping you will be able to help me with this puzzle. I am also including a small variety of other spider pics I have taken. I am not sure which species the jumping spider is but I think the garden spider is some variety of an Argiope, and that the Green one is a Lynx spider, (by the way, the wasp lost, lol). They are some of my better spider captures and I thought you might find them acceptable or useful for posting. This is the third time I have attempted to get a response from your site and maybe the third time will be charmed, lol. I realize that you can’t answer all the submittions you receive but I am counting on perserverance to accomplish my identity search for this very unusually shaped and colored spider. BTW – I am in the northeast corner of Texas and the leg span of the red and black spider was several inches across as can be seen in the image where it is on a cone flower. This is the first and only time I have ever seen this type of spider.
Lee R.

Hi Lee,
Wow, what an awesome looking spider. It is a mystery to us as well. We are going to try some searching in the Lynx Spider Family Oxyopidae, and perhaps some Arachnid expert will know what this is based on our posting. We are sorry we have not responded to your prior letters. It is nothing personal. It is just impossible to even read all the mail we receive. Eric Eaton provided this assessment: “Gee, the photo doesn’t come across very well on my WebTV, but I think the spider is probably a male of either Nephila clavipes or one of the species in the genus Argiope. Just an educated guess, though.”

Update: (05/07/2007) Mystery spider…
Gary here, from the Missouri Ozarks. “Lee” posted a photo on your site dated September of 2006 taken in Northern Texas of a colorful spider that had red and black legs, a black body with red markings on it’s back. You folks told him you didn’t know what it was. Well, I’ve found a match for it in my wife’s office and according to the University of Kentucky’s Entomology website (“Mystery Bug” section) it is a male black widow. I hope this helps. R/S
Gary Paddock
Shell Knob, Mo.

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widow egg sac
I wrote a while back and asked about keeping a young black widow I found in a box of supermarket firewood. I have had her now for several months, and have been keeping her in a container that has six 2-3mm holes for air. She’s quite happy – I feed her all sorts of other bugs and sometimes pet store crickets. This morning I found her patting the last layers onto an egg sac – YIKES! How did this happen? Was it possible she had bred already, even when she was a wee cm long (including legs!)? Or has she figured out how to bribe the cat to unscrew the lid to her bottle and goes out on the town at night? Hussy! In any case, what do I do now? Take it all out to the woods and let her go? I’d hate to have them running around the neighborhood – lots of little kids. here are a few photos of the little minx.
Syndi Burton
San Francisco

Hi Syndi,
First, we love your colorful letter. Minx is such an underused, descriptive word. We believe it is possible that your Elvira was fertilized prior to becoming your pet. She wouldn’t have begun to swell with eggs until she was well nourished, and we believe she probably had a more regular diet with you than she would have gotten in the wild. It is also possible that the eggs are unfertilized and non-viable. To be safe, to the woods with Elvira might be the kindest solution to the riddle. Eric Eaton wrote in to add this: “Everything else looks in great shape:-) You are right about the female widow, by the way. Female spiders (and most insects, too) can store sperm from one mating and it lasts them a lifetime. Further, female spiders (and moths, etc) will lay eggs regardless of their viability, especially toward the end of the female’s lifespan.”

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Juvenile Western Black Widow?
From the information I was able to find on the web, it looks like I may have found a Western Black Widow (juvenile) is it possible to make that determination from the attached photos? Hope they are clear enough.

Hi Scot,
This is a male Western Black Widow. The photos are wonderful.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination