Latrodectus hesperus, the western black widow spider or western widow, is a venomous spider species found in western regions of North America. The female’s body is 14–16 mm (1/2 in) in length and is black, often with an hourglass-shaped red mark on the lower abdomen. This “hourglass” mark can be yellow, and on rare occasions, white. The male of the species is around half this length and generally a tan color with lighter striping on the abdomen. The population was previously described as a subspecies of Latrodectus mactans and it is closely related to the northern species Latrodectus variolus. The species, as with others of the genus, build irregular or “messy” webs: Unlike the spiral webs or the tunnel-shaped webs of other spiders, the strands of a Latrodectus web have no apparent organization. Female black widows have potent venom composed of neurotoxins. Fatalities usually only happen with children and the elderly, however medical treatment may be required for others as well. However, the male black widow is harmless to humans. The female’s consumption of the male after courtship, a cannibalistic and suicidal behavior observed in Latrodectus hasseltii (Australia’s redback),[2] is rare in this species. Male western widows may breed several times during their relatively short lifespans.[3] Males are known to show preference for mating with well-fed females over starved ones, taking cues from the females’ webs.[4]

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3 thoughts on “Latrodectus

  1. Latrodectus mactans
    Latrodectus mactans, known as the wheat spider,[citation needed] southern black widow or simply black widow, is a highly venomous species of spider in the genus Latrodectus. They are well known for the distinctive black and red coloring of the female of the species that will occasionally eat her mate after reproduction. The species is native to North America. The venom is seldom fatal to healthy humans.[2]

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    • Latrodectus variolus

      This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (April 2016) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
      Latrodectus variolus
      Latrodectus variolus (Northern Black Widow), F Theridiidae.jpg
      Scientific classification e
      Kingdom: Animalia
      Phylum: Arthropoda
      Subphylum: Chelicerata
      Class: Arachnida
      Order: Araneae
      Infraorder: Araneomorphae
      Family: Theridiidae
      Genus: Latrodectus
      Species: L. variolus
      Binomial name
      Latrodectus variolus
      Walckenaer, 1837[1]
      Latrodectus variolus, the northern black widow spider or northern widow, is a medically important spider species of the genus Latrodectus in the family Theridiidae. The population is closely related to the southern black widow, Latrodectus mactans, and the western black widow, Latrodectus hesperus, of the genus.[citation needed]

      It is commonly found in Middle Atlantic states (New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland). During the April–May mating season, it can travel north along the coast as far as Massachusetts. It also occurs in Connecticut in late summer. It is found, rarely, in southern Ontario, Canada.[citation needed]

      A bite may cause latrodectism, and requires medical attention in the case of increasingly severe discomfort or spreading local redness accompanied by severe pain.[2] The LD-50 has been measured in mice as 1.20–2.70 mg (0.019–0.042 gr); each spider contains about 0.254 mg (0.0039 gr) of venom.[3]

      Unlike for the related Latrodectus mactans, as of 2015 no antivenin was available.[citation needed]


    • Latrodectus tredecimguttatus

      Latrodectus tredecimguttatus, sometimes known as the Mediterranean black widow, the European black widow, or the steppe spider, is a species in the genus Latrodectus (widow spiders). It is commonly found throughout the Mediterranean region, ranging from Portugal to southwest and central Asia, hence the name. Specimens from central Asia are also known by the binomial name Latrodectus lugubris; that name, however, is now considered improper, though it is still commonly found in the literature. Latrodectus tredecimguttatus was previously considered a Latrodectus mactans subspecies.[2]

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