There Is A Reason They Are Called Black Widows

May 11, 2016

There Is A Reason They Are Called Black Widows

There Is A Reason They Are Called Black Widows

Perhaps the most venomous species of animal in the world is the North American Black Widow spider. Only the female carries the lethal bite and should be avoided at all costs. A single bite has the potential of being fatal. Thus, the reference to the woman being a “Black Widow” in thriller movies.

What to look for? Black widow spiders are typically dark brown or black with an orange hourglass on her abdomen although they also can have no markings at all. Unfortunately, not very helpful in determining who is and who isn’t. The advice would be to avoid all similar spiders if possible even though males cause no real potential harm to humans.

Her lethal blend of neurotoxins can kill smaller prey almost instantly and on humans can be fatal within hours. There will be an increase in blood pressure and breathing as the venom plays havoc with the victim’s nervous system. The venom is so strong it breaks down the skin, muscles and bone into liquid form so the spider can digest the target.

The question asked is if she is so lethal why are there not more deaths reported in the United States? Apparently she is afraid of humans and like many other dangerous animals, she tries to flee when provoked rather than attack which she does as a last resort. And in most cases it is reported she only injects a small amount of venom into her human victim before trying to escape. This is why the fatality rate from Black Widow bites only consist of about 1 per cent fatalities in the US.

More about the black widow here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latrodectus_mactans

Learn more about insects, arachnids and invertebrates at the BugsDirect Learning Centre - click here.



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