The Avengers was the movie to see this summer. The spectacular cast included the spectacular Black Widow. Although Natasha Romanov didn’t poison her male coworkers with venom, she made the real black widow gals proud with her effective combat skills and independence.
Character: The “black widow” spiders are actually a subgroup of the more general “widow spiders.” These widow spiders are not a specific species; rather, they are all part of the genus Latrodectus (think “extended family picnic”). Some of the Latrodectus spiders are widows, and some of those widows are black.
- Widow spiders can be found worldwide. Two black varieties are found in northeast Ohio, making it onto the state’s short list of “Dangerous Native Species.”
- The iconic black widow female has a shiny black body and a red hourglass marking on its abdomen. They are comb-footed, with tiny bristles on their back legs. This helps them spin their messy, tangled webs.
- The female venom is much stronger than male venom. However, even female venom rarely kills a human if they have proper medical attention.
- There is another genus of spider called Steatoda. They are similar to Latrodectus in appearance but are not poisonous.
- After baby black widows hatch, they are carried on the wind by silk threads in order to disperse from their place of birth.
Spiders—poisonous or not—are best left in movies or the outdoors. If you have a spider problem, contact Epcon Lane today.
Thanks to Berkley Nature, The Natural History Musuem, MedScape Reference, Arkive, Project Noah, Mental Floss–“17 Famous Literary Characters Almost Named Something Else” and eHow.