×
BugFinder Insects by State Spiders Butterflies & Moths Bees, Ants, & Wasps Beetles All Bugs Videos (YouTube)

Black Widow (Latrodectus mactans)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Black Widow



Loading SVG image placeholder
1/4
Image Credit: Ken Thomas, Public Domain
Full-sized image of the Southern-Black-Widow Thumbnail image of the Southern-Black-Widow
2/4
Image Credit: Alex -icycatelf- Bowen
Full-sized image #2 of the Southern-Black-Widow Thumbnail image #2 of the Southern-Black-Widow
3/4
Image Credit: Missouri Department of Conservation
Full-sized image #3 of the Southern-Black-Widow Thumbnail image #3 of the Southern-Black-Widow
4/4
Image Credit: Seth G. from AZ
Full-sized image #4 of the Southern-Black-Widow Thumbnail image #4 of the Southern-Black-Widow

Sighting the small red hourglass shape on the belly of the glossy Black Widow calls for immediate caution and a plan of action.



Updated: 01/26/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Female Black Widows are famous for their toxic venom. Males lack toxicity and are not really known to bite. Immature females do not yet have the powerful poison stores that adults develop. The bodies of both genders are shiny and hairless. Juveniles start out brown, white and orange, growing more black as they age. Adult females are glossy and completely black with the trademark red 'hourglass' on the bottom of their round abdomen. Though males change in color and pattern as they mature, they are always smaller in size (by half) compared to the female. Females are known to eat the male after mating, earning them the name 'widow'. Females can store the sperm from one mating session and use it to produce subsequent batches of fertilized eggs. Lifespans for females range from one to three years; males may live about two months.

Found frequently in the southern U.S. states, this species is also called the Southern Black Widow. It tends to spin its web in places that may be disturbed or visited by humans, thus increasing the likelihood of an unfortunate encounter between them. Webs are irregular in shape, but strong, and are built under stones, near openings of rodent holes, and in outbuildings such as sheds, outhouses or barns. The spider is unlikely to leave its web to hide from insect prey. It does not go out of its way to bite humans, but a female guarding her eggs is more inclined to attack and bite a threat rather than escape.

The venom in adult females is highly poisonous to humans and REQUIRES MEDICAL ATTENTION. Some people feel the bite (like a pin-prick), others do not. Pain will eventually begin at the site of the bite, and then it spreads to the stomach and back with cramping in the first 8-12 hours of the bite. Other symptoms also may include sweating, nausea, tremors, restlessness, fever and a headache.

If you suspect you have been bitten by a Black Widow, do not attempt to suck out the venom. Immediately wash the bite area with soap and water. Put ice on the bite site and elevate that body part. Seek medical attention immediately if symptoms persist or worsen. Though it is rare for humans to die from a Black Widow bite, early treatment can reduce pain and other symptoms, and hasten recovery. This treatment may include taking antivenom and other medications. Small children are particularly sensitive to the venom. Those with heart conditions may need hospitalization. Every human body is different. It is critical to let a medical professional assess the victim and treat this kind of spider bite.




Known Diet of the Southern-Black-Widow



insects


General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Insect biting icon
Harmful insect icon
Patterned insect icon
Shiny insect icon
Venomous insect icon




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Arachnida
      Order: Araneae
        Family: Theridiidae
View More
          Genus: Latrodectus
View More
            Species: mactans
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Latrodectus mactans
Other Name(s): Southern Black Widow
Category: Spider
Size (Adult; Length): 3mm to 10mm (0.11" to 0.39")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: white, red, black, orange, brown, yellow, white
Descriptors: shiny, pattern, hourglass, widow, biting, venomous, harmful
Relative Size Comparison
Typical Range Between 3mm and 10mm
Lo: 3mm
Md: 6.5mm
Hi: 10mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
State of Alabama graphic
State of Arizona graphic
State of Arkansas graphic
State of California graphic
State of Colorado graphic
State of Delware graphic
State of Florida graphic
State of Georgia graphic
State of Idaho graphic
State of Illinois graphic
State of Indiana graphic
State of Iowa graphic
State of Kansas graphic
State of Kentucky graphic
State of Louisiana graphic
State of Maine graphic
State of Maryland graphic
State of Michigan graphic
State of Minnesota graphic
State of Mississippi graphic
State of Missouri graphic
State of Montana graphic
State of Nebraska graphic
State of Nevada graphic
State of New England graphic
State of New Jersey graphic
State of New Mexico graphic
State of New York graphic
State of North Carolina graphic
State of North Dakota graphic
State of Ohio graphic
State of Oklahoma graphic
State of Oregon graphic
State of Pennsylvania graphic
State of South Carolina graphic
State of South Dakota graphic
State of Tennessee graphic
State of Texas graphic
State of Utah graphic
State of Virginia graphic
State of Washington graphic
State of West Virginia graphic
State of Wisconsin graphic
State of Wyoming graphic
Canadian territory of Alberta graphic
Canadian territory of British Columbia graphic
Canadian territory of Manitoba graphic
Canadian territory of New Brunswick graphic
Canadian territory of Newfoundland and Labrador graphic
Canadian territory of Ontario graphic
Canadian territory of Quebec graphic
Canadian territory of Saskatchewan graphic
Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Black Widow may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Black Widow. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

Site Disclaimer  |  Privacy Policy  |  Cookies  |  Sitemap


Beetle Identification Butterfly Identification Caterpillar Identification Spider ID

www.InsectIdentification.org • Content ©2006- InsectIdentification.org • All Rights Reserved. The InsectIdentification.org logo, its written content, and watermarked photographs/imagery are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and is protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. This resource uses publically-released information. Material presented throughout this website is for entertainment value and should not to be construed as usable for scientific research or medical advice (regarding bites, etc...).Please consult licensed, degreed professionals for such information. By submitting images to us (InsectIdentification.org) you acknowledge that you have read and understood our Site Disclaimer as it pertains to "User-Submitted Content". When emailing please include your location and the general estimated size of the specimen in question if possible. Please direct all inquiries and comments to insectidentification AT gmail.com.

www.InsectIdentification.org • All Rights Reserved • Content ©2006- NEW-NEWSITE

Facebook Logo YouTube Logo