Which one of these spiders is a black widow?
When it comes to spiders, there are numerous species out there, some harmless, and some potentially dangerous. One spider that often raises concerns is the black widow. Known for its venomous bite, the black widow is infamous for its bold black color and iconic red hourglass marking on its abdomen. However, not all spiders that resemble the black widow are actually black widows. In this article, we will explore some lookalike spiders and how to distinguish them from the real black widow.
1. False Widow Spiders
- False widow spiders are commonly mistaken for black widows due to their similar appearance.
- They have a similar body shape and color, with dark black or brown bodies and shiny markings.
- However, the hourglass marking on a false widow’s abdomen is usually cream-colored or orange instead of red.
- False widows are less venomous than black widows and their bites are usually milder.
- They are typically found in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe rather than in North America.
2. Redback Spiders
- Redback spiders are another lookalike species that people often mistake for black widows.
- They are found in Australia and are known for their red or orange hourglass marking on the underside of their abdomen.
- Like black widows, redback spiders also have a venomous bite, but their venom is not considered as potent.
- Redback spiders are not commonly found outside of Australia, so if you encounter one elsewhere, it is more likely a different species.
3. Steatoda Species
- Steatoda is a genus of spiders that includes several species commonly known as false widows.
- These spiders resemble black widows in body shape and coloration, but their markings can vary.
- Some steatoda species have similar red hourglass markings, while others may have other patterns or no distinct markings at all.
- While false widows may have venom that can cause discomfort and possible allergic reactions, their bites are generally not as severe as those of black widows.
4. How to Identify a Black Widow
- Black widows can vary slightly in appearance, but there are some key characteristics to look for:
- A shiny black body with a distinct red hourglass marking on the underside of the abdomen.
- The body shape is typically round or slightly elongated.
- Females are larger than males, reaching around 1.5 inches in body length.
- Black widows are commonly found in the United States and other parts of North America.
While there are several spiders that resemble the black widow, it is important to correctly identify them to avoid unnecessary panic or harm. Understanding the differences in appearance and geographic distribution can help in distinguishing between the lookalikes and the real black widow. Remember, if you are unsure whether a spider is a black widow or not, it is always best to err on the side of caution and keep a safe distance.