Ed Golson Outdoor Education

black widow spider

Scientific Name: Latrodectus various

Description: The black widow is shiny black in color and is usually less than half an inch in length. Females have a bright red hour-glass marking on the underside of their abdomen as a warning for predators not to eat them. The black widow spider is poisonous and can cause a lot of pain to those it bites. Black widows are not aggressive and normally don't bite people, but they will if they feel threatened. The bites are serious health risks, but they are rarely fatal. As long as people who are bitten get quick medical help, they can completely recover.


Habitat: The black widow is found throughout most of the U.S. They usually live in dark and shady areas. They can be found under rocks, wood piles, or in quiet areas of a barn. They are very rare in Michigan and are usually brought in with a shipment of something.

Food: Black widows are carnivores that eat mostly insects and other spiders. The spider normally catches the insects in its web, bites it to inject the venom, and then drags the body to a quiet area to eat it.  While it is true that the female will often eat the male after mating, this is not always the case. Sometimes the male will walk away safely.

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