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Black Widow
Latrodectus mactans

I have to say, I had never seen a Black Widow spider until I moved to the mountains of central Virginia (and I did grow up in Virginia). It seems that where I live is where they love, and they are ubiquitious, especially in rock crannies, in holes in rotting stumps, anything that’s kind of cave-like, you just might find one.

Luckily, in my experience, and unlike brown recluses (which I am not good at identifying) I have found that the Black Widow really wants to be left alone, and leave you alone. Just don’t poke the bear, I mean bug (well, spider). They will sooner hide away from you than attack you, unless you’re getting way too much in their space. In fact, I might classify these spiders as shy.

I always make sure to wear my gloves when working around wood, logs, rocks and other dark places.

They are black, have a big abdomen, and on the underside they have a red marking that some say looks like an hourglass. I’ve seen some range from very small (the size of a nickel) to as big as a quarter.

As one local described to me once “their webs are all messy like Charlotte’s Web” and I’ve found that to be true. True haunted house spider webs.

The female carries a potent venom containing the neurotoxin latrotoxin. Bites from these spiders rarely cause death or produce serious complications (but, you know, don’t get bit).

Size: up to about 1.5" long
Family: 	Theridiidae (Tangle-web spiders)
Habitat: Dark holes and hidden areas like woodpiles, rotting stumps, rock walls, sheds.
Identifiers: Black with red markings on abdomen
All text and photos copyright © 2022 Middle Way Nature Reserve, unless noted.
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