Saturday, March 8, 2008

Black Widow

The black widow, Latrodectus mactans, is a poisonous spider of the family Theridiidae, or glossy black, densely clothed with microscopic hairs, and marked with a characteristic red hourglass on the underside of the abdomen. The male, which is rarely seen, is smaller than the female and has four pairs of red marks along the sides of the abdomen. The black widow is found worldwide and in the warmer regions in every state in the United States except Alaska and Hawaii; it lives in a variety of natural and domestic habitats. Generally the females are not aggressive unless agitated, although they are prone to bite can be fatal. The diet of the black widow consists of insects, spiders, and centipedes captured with its web. After mating, the female may ensnare and feed upon her mate, hence the name black widow.

The veronomous bite of the black widow spider causes muscle spasms and breathing difficulty in humans and may be fatal. The female is distinguished by a red hourglass marking on its underside.

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