Holy Spider Batman!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

While frolicking by the pool last weekend at Mamaw and Papaw' s house, my 6 year old went poking around the vegetable garden and commented that he didn't like the looks of "that spider." "What spider?" I replied and scurried over to take a look, thinking to myself, this may be an ideal "teachable moment" and I should take advantage. Plus, I'm just plain curious about critters of all kinds. When I got a load of the spider he was referring to, surprise! surprise! It was a female black widow. Wow, cool! and Yikes! went through my brain simultaneously. After carefully helping the kids to get a good look, and then shooing them away, I ran inside to get my camera.
Of the several shots I took, this was the only good one. She was in a tube and at an awkward angle. And when I leaned in for a better shot, she darted toward me and nearly scared the pee outta me. Did I mention I'm a wuss?
Interestingly, when the photo is enlarged you can make out the remains of some unlucky soul down in the sand. There are spider legs and a dismantled carcass laying about beneath her web. I wonder if that was her mate and if he knew what he was getting himself into when he came calling? And I thought I was a bitch :O

Here Are A Few Things We Learned About Black Widow Spiders:

The female Black Widow is the most venomous spider in North America. The venom of the black widow spider is 15 times as toxic as the venom of the prairie rattlesnake. The spiders inject such a small amount of venom with a bite, however, that they rarely cause death in humans.
The female's body is about .5 inches long, 1.5 inches when the legs are spread.
Females may occasionally kill and eat a male after mating but this is more the exception than the rule.
Adult males are harmless to humans, about half the female's size, with smaller bodies, and longer legs and usually have yellow and red bands and spots over the back as do the immature stages.
The female Black Widow hangs belly upward and rarely leaves the web.
Black Widows spin webs that lack shape and form and are relatively tough and sticky.
Like most arachnids, the Black Widow preys on insects. Prey caught in the web include a variety of insects (cockroaches and beetles) and other arthropods. After ensnaring its prey in the web, the Black Widow makes small punctures in the victim's body and sucks out the liquid contents.
The Black Widow is preyed upon by Mud-Dauber wasps.
Anonymous said...

Yikes! I actually recently found a black widow in our garage and it freaked me out for days!


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