Cannibal that Eats Her Mate

The Black Widow Spider has long been one of the most feared insects to invade your home. Recently, with more knowledge and cases of Brown Recluse Spider bites, the Black Widow is not as prevalent among homeowner’s complaints. However it is still a populous resident in Nashville and a venomous predator that should be avoided at all costs.

The Black Widow gets its name from their mating practice. They are solitary insects, except for late in the spring season, when it is time to reproduce. Once the Female has chosen her mate, and is fertilized, she then turns cannibal and eats her male counterpart. This behavior has been determined to be a survival instinct, to give her offspring better odds of growing to adulthood and give her babies sufficient protein while still inside of her. She then spins an egg sac that will hold up to 800 eggs. In about one month the baby spiders emerge, and following their mothers example, they too are cannibals and will even eat each other. So, the quick three month span to adulthood is quite difficult. Although the female lifespan is two to three years, the male lifespan is only a few months. This is no doubt, due to the fact that the females eat them. So the male is quite careful when approaching. They try and sense if the female has already eaten, to lower the possibility that they will in fact be eaten. They do so by testing the chemical makeup of her web, to see if it is safe. But few ever get away safe.

The female Black Widow spins an extremely strong web that is comparable to steel wire, when compared in scale to humans. This web serves several functions. It is a place to keep her egg sac and potential young safe until they hatch. The Black Widow Web also is carefully placed in an area that will trap food for survival. The diet of the Black Widow consists of just about anything ensnared in the web such as flies, mosquitoes, and even other spiders. Although the Black Widow has very poor eyesight, they are very sensitive to vibrations. The hang upside down, suspended and attached to the web, waiting to sense the vibrations of its struggling prey. They then hurry to the trapped insect and wrap it in silk to encapsulate its dinner. When it is time to eat, the Black Widow actually bites the prey to ensure death, and then they regurgitate digestive enzymes on the insect to dissolve it into a liquid. Now it is time to suck up their liquid diet.

The Black Widow is about 1 ½” long and can be identified by its trademark black color, and red hourglass on the underside of their abdomen. The male is a little more difficult to identify as it is smaller than the female and can have various different markings of red or white, on the top of its body.

The Black Widow venom is one of the most powerful among arachnids, however it only feels like a small stick of a pin when bitten. They are not aggressive and only bite out of defense or if they sense pressure, such as being stepped on. The effects on other insects are deadly, so be careful around a web or if you spot a Black Widow. Rare cases of human fatality have been reported, so children and elderly should be extra cautious of this venomous spider. The venom can cause sweating, nausea, muscle pain, abdominal pain and a very fast heart rate. Symptoms can last as long as a week or two, but can be treated with an antivenom if necessary to relieve pain.

Black Widows reside around the world, including the United States and here in Nashville, TN. So, in addition to being cautious to avoid this venomous spider; a regular pest prevention plan should be in place to protect your family from all spiders. To properly address your Nashville Pest Control Prevention Plan, contact Certified Pest Control. You can trust our family to treat you and your home in an honest and effective manner.

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