Western Black WidowLatrodectus hesperus

Spiders of the genus Latrodectus are found worldwide, and in North America, black widows are among the few species harmful to people. Still, they’re web builders that stay in their retreats day and night. If you see one outside its web, it’s likely a male in search of a female. That trip can end badly. As their name suggests, female black widows sometimes eat males after mating.

Check me out: If I have a red hourglass on my underside, I’m a widow spider.

Species Range: From Canada to the warmer regions of the western U.S. and south to Mexico

Habitat: Terrestrial; crevices, including those in and around houses

Should you worry? Yes. I’m shy and my fangs are small, but my venom is potent. Black widow venom contains powerful chemicals called neurotoxins, including one specific to vertebrates like us. Once injected, the venom may flood nerve endings with chemical signals, causing paralysis. 

Unlikely to Bite: Black widows are shy and tend not to bite humans unless disturbed. Most bites involve such a small amount of venom that the victim survives.

See the Western Black Widow in Spiders Alive! open now. 

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