Woke up the other day and had this black spider on the ceiling. Didnt think much of it and forgot that it was there. later that day I saw it again and decided to catch it and figure out what it was... not to sure what it is but if someone else knows please do tell
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My Signature??? lol
Everything will be okay in the end, if it is not okay... it is not the end
To elaborate a little (Yeah! That'll be the day Hell freezes over!)...
The genus Latrodectus is better known to the layman as the widow spiders. The most famous one, L. mactans (black widow) is native to southeastern North America. There are a number of closely related species in North America, one of which (L. variolus) gets as far north as southern Canada. In fact, I have found them to be quite common within a few kilometers of where I'm staying at the moment (Medicine Hat, Alberta
). They've been found at least as far north as Red Deer
. For the record, we're talking 52° north latitude where the surface temperatures often drop to -35 C to -42 C in mid winter! Our northern widows (the approved common name
in the English speaking parts of North America) overwinter in deep "gopher"
burrows. In captivity the females will live up to three years.
The entire genus is notorious for being highly venomous and causing death, but in fact more people die of bee stings than widow bites. The greater danger is the cramping and other symptoms you must endure. I was once told by an old ranch hand in western Texas that you typically go through four stages with a widow bite:
1. "Oh my God! Oh my God! I been bit! Lookit that! I been bit!
2. "Oh my God! Oh my God! I'm gonna die! Please, please don't let me die!"
3. "Oh my God! Oh my God! I wish I'd die. Please, please let me die!"
4. "Oh my God! Oh my God! I'm alive! I'm alive! See Kiddies? Grandpa got bit by a nasty old spider and lived! (I guess I'm tougher than you thought! Ha, ha!)"
Worldwide, there are about 31 species of widows (I just counted those listed in Platnick's World Spider Catalog
), only about seven native to continental Africa, and only the following apparently native to southern or South Africa:
L. cinctus (maybe) L. indistinctus L. karrooensis L. renivulvatus L. rhodesiensis
It's possible that the following are also found in South Africa because they're known to be highly invasive or to have been introduced to many other parts of the world.
L. geometricus L. hesperus L. mactans
Although we can't see the front of your specimen very clearly, I presume it's a male based on its body coloring and general body habitus.
The myth is that only the females are large and strong enough to be able to penetrate human skin if they try to bite, but even a moment's thought will reveal that the thickness of the skin has a lot to do with the matter. And it's at least conceivable that smaller or male widows could bite through a human baby's skin, perhaps even the thin skin between the fingers or other very thin skin on an adult.
No, you need not get hysterical about your little guy. You and your neighbors have probably been living with widows for the last hundred or thousand generations, and I'd be really surprised if you could actually give me the name of anyone you personally knew who had been killed or even suffered a serious bite by one. Such stories are generally only fostered by the scandal sheets and rag tabloids in an effort to boost sagging distributions. Or sensationalist TV documentaries.
Here's a photo of an adult female from an unusual race of L. hesperus
that I found last Winter in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas near Sullivan City. It's unusual for L. hesperus because the adult females are normally black with the red mark on their belly like the traditional black widow. In this race, however, the adult females retain their juvenile colors and pattern throughout life. Very pretty. (Click or right-click the thumbnail to see a larger image.)
(Photos by Steve Ridley. Used with permission)
Lastly, you can always tell if the person who's spouting off about widows is believable or not by where they think the traditional red mark is. Every cartoon, most laymen, and even a few TV documentaries place an hourglass shaped mark on the back with the widow walking right-side up. In fact, the red mark is not always an hourglass (there's a wide variation from the legendary hourglass to two disconnected spots, to only one mark, to no mark at all), it's on the venter of their opisthosoma (belly of their abdomen), and the only time you see a widow right-side up is after it's fallen to the ground and is trying to get away. Almost all the rest of the time they're hanging UPSIDE DOWN in their webs.
Ahhh! TV documentaries! You gotta love 'em!
"Will you walk into my parlor?" said the Spider to the Fly; "'Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you did spy”
-- Mary Howitt
Okay, so you want one of those L. hesperus. (Maybe you should crank up Google Maps
for this one?) Grab a plane to Brownsville, Texas. Rent a car and drive northwest on US Highway 83 to Sullivan City (about 85 miles or 138 km). Take note of the white, water tower standing next to the highway, and check your odometer.
Almost exactly 3 miles (4.86 kilometers) west you'll cross an arroyo going under the expressway. Pull over to the side and park as far away from the pavement as you can. (Unless you have suicidal tendencies!)
Grab your collecting gear and walk back to the arroyo, checking for Rio Grande gold tarantula (Aphonopelma moderatum) burrows underfoot as you do so. (Do not fail to check both sides of the highway both directions from the arroyo.) I found them just to the left of the wooden cross (on the little hill towards the right end) in this photo. Remember: this species is known to bite! But, it's relatively harmless.
In the walk-through, concrete culverts under the expressway look for strange little silken lairs along the sides of the culvert at ceiling level. Be careful to watch for rattlesnakes at your feet.
If you get stopped by a sheriff or other police officer, let him hold a Rio Grande gold. (How suicidal are you, really?) :happy:
BTW, if you like Mexican cuisine, you're going to think you died and went to Heaven!
The Tarantula Whisperers!
Marguerite Schultz Co-authors of the TARANTULA KEEPER'S GUIDE, now in its third edition!
Private Messages have been turned OFF!
Last edit: 10 years 5 months ago by Stanley A. Schultz. Reason: Because I can never leave well enough alone!