Thursday, May 17, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: Black Widows

Mom and I were out walking the other night, and we came through our gate in our side yard. Mom opened the gate and chained it open like she always does. As we walked past the wooden gate, she looked down and saw this ginormous black widow spider, hanging out in the open in a web on the gate. I walked right by it! Mom knocked it down with her foot and stepped on it. It really freaked her out. Black widow spiders are very common around here, but they usually hang out in dark, enclosed places (like fingers of work gloves or toes of work shoes kept outside). But this was right out in the open! She squished it before thinking to take a picture, but it looked very much like this:



So I thought I'd do a Thursday Thirteen on Black Widow spiders, cause every cat should be very careful if they live in an area that has them.

1. Black widows are in the Genus Latrodectus. There are 6 species, with the species L. hesperus being the most common in the western US and is the Black Widow found in the North American deserts. They occur throughout all four deserts of the American Southwest.

2. The Black Widow is considered the most venomous spider in North America.

3. The venom of the black widow spider is 15 times as toxic as the venom of the prairie rattlesnake.

4. Black widow spider venom is categorized as a nerve toxin.

5. Black Widow spiders are not usually deadly, especially to adult humans, because they inject only a small amount of venom.

6. However, cats are extremely sensitive to black widow spider bites, showing signs of severe pain, drooling, restlessness, and early paralysis. Death is common in cats.

7. While there is an antivenin available that has been helpful in people, it is very expensive and usually available only through human hospitals, and is not common in vet hospitals. So avoidance is the best defense for cats.

8. Black widows are often found on the underside of ledges, rocks, plants and debris, wherever a web can be strung. Cold weather and drought may drive these spiders into buildings.

9. The black widow spider is shy and nocturnal in habit, usually staying hidden in her web, hanging belly upward. Although not aggressive, she may rush out and bite when her web is disturbed or when accidentally trapped in clothing or shoes.

10. Only the female Black Widow is dangerous to cats; males and juveniles are harmless.

11. The female Black Widow is shiny black, usually with a reddish hourglass shape on the underside of her spherical abdomen.

12. Females may occasionally kill and eat a male after mating but this is more the exception than the rule.

13. The Black Widow is preyed upon by Mud-Dauber wasps.

So cats, protect yourself and stay away from these nasty feme fatailes!

27 comments:

Hot(M)BC said...

Ewww! They sounds Nasty! We's furry glad yoo didn't get bit! We'll make shure to avoid them.

Mommmmmmmy go make sure there's none of them in the house!

Purrrrrrrrrs,
Sanjee

Skeezix said...

So, can we eet 'em, or not??

Daniel said...

When I was a child, I began to be afraid spiders. before one friend onEbonyFriends.com told me that spiders are very poisonous and we should escape from spiders.

Zippy, Sadie and Speedy said...

Ick! Good thing yoo din't get bited. Please tell Skeezix not to try to eat dem nasty spiders.

Kimo & Sabi said...

Yeppers - Mommakitty squarshes a couple a month. They hang out in da wood pile in da back yard, under da bench on da front porch, and sometimes they hide behind da water fountain. She also likes to get out da hose and shoot 'em across da yard!

Dragonheart said...

Oh my goodness Tara, those spiders sound very scary and dangerous! Make sure you stay far away from them when you go out for your strolls - I wouldn't want you to be bitten!

Daisy said...

Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh! A black widow!!!! Thanks for the warning, Tara!

DEBRA said...

Ewwwwwww!!! I nefur seen a spider a'fore. Wow and there are some that are dangerous too? Those itty bitty fings? Wow. Momma you better go and check and makes sure we dont' have none of dem creatures around here.

Abby

Kaze, Latte, or Chase said...

I am SO glad we don't have those here! Meowmy hates bees but if she had those spiders around she'd make a happy place for those wasps! Be careful Tara!

Latte

Name: Mr. Hendrix said...

My mommy is so afraid of spiders, she can hardly use fake ones at Halloween. My daddy usually has to put those out...
Those sound very dangerous. Be careful not to use those amazing hunting skills on those black widows Tara, we don't want you to get hurt!
Your mommy is VERY brave to knock it down and kill it to protect you. Even tho my mommy is so scared of them, she said she'd do it to protect me (or at least try to). She is very impressed with your mommy. She actually has her feet up as she is typing 'cause she is so freaked out...

Lyn Perry said...

wow, no spiders for me thanks, :-)
Lyn from Bloggin' Outloud

=^..^= said...

Your Mon fearlessly purrtected you furom that dangerous spider. I didn't know cats were so vulnerable to their venom. But now that i do know, i hope i'll nefur meet one.

~Bombay

Bogdan, the editor said...

Black widows are very scary!!! We thought we would meet one for sure when we lived in Manteca, but we never did... but we've met two in San Luis Obispo. It was a good thing human dad was around to kill them.

Thank you for the crash course in black widows.

-Morning Scratch gang

Forty Paws said...

Ackkk!!! Nasty. Ewwww. Ickkkk.

Very informative lesson. Will there be a PoP Kwiz later?

Luf, Us

yao-lin said...

My human is shuddering. She doesnt know what is scarier - a spider hunting wasp or a back widow. She is petrified of both! She read in the paper recently that in england we are getting black widow spiders. My human is paranoid and checks her bananas when she buys them from the shop ha ha
xx

jcfloresinc said...

Tara, that is very interesting stuff. I don't think we have those spiders in Florida, but I am going to watch out anyway. I like to eat crawly things. Tigger doesn't like crawly things, so he should be safe. You be careful and don't get bit.
Be blessed,
Samantha and Tigger

Anni said...

This is great info, but skeery!!!

I'm up and the update about Samantha is there too. Happy TT!

The Furry Kids said...

AAAAAAHHHH!

Derby said...

Good advise Tara!

DaisyMae Maus said...

Furry informative, Tara ... I've never seen a Black Widow spider, but I've eaten some little brownish ones. Delicious!
DMM

Caesar and Princess said...

Ewwwww spiders are so creepy.
Black widows are bad BAD!!!

Stay away from them Tara, be safe

DK & The Fluffies said...

Yipes - not the spider to be eating!

Marie the Defender said...

Wow, you are so smart and knowledgeable! We don't have any widow spiders here, but we will keep what you say in mind if we ever see one!!

Zoey and the furballs (the Zoo Crew) said...

Okay, so I guess they are off my eating list. Flies are still okay, right?

Monica said...

I will have to do some research to see if we have them nasty spiders around our place.

The Cats Stephens said...

Our mommy is super allergic to regular spider bites, I'd hate to think what would happen if one of these bit her. I better keep an extra sharp look out, thanks Tara!

-Eliot

Jake and Bathsheba said...

Very scary, especially #6! I often like to eat bugs so I'd better be careful. Thanks for the warning.

~Jake