Latrodectus hesperus

| 14 Comments

Photograph by Paul Burnett.

Burnett-ptspi1-crop2-600.jpg

Latrodectus hesperus - (male) western black widow spider. Mr Burnett assures us, “Yes, that’s my thumb and forefinger. And yes, it was alive, although unhappy.”

14 Comments

And already WAY more courage than I’ve got!

Knowing that the antivenom is for a one-time only use, it is risky. Sorta like jumping out of a perfectly good airplane.

One wonders how they manage to keep that hourglass figure with such an infamous appetite.

Farcall said: And already WAY more courage than I’ve got!

No, I am not a complete moron:

Only the female Black Widow is dangerous to humans; males and juveniles are harmless.” - http://www.desertusa.com/july97/du_bwindow.html

Experts in the field have suggested that males (smaller, and sometimes grayish) very rarely bite humans, and their venom is not as potent as the female.” - http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Are_male_[…]rs_poisonous#

The males, being much smaller, inject far less venom with smaller chelicerae (fangs, sort of).” - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latrodectus_mactans

Mr. Burnett, you are much more courages than I. I wouldn’t take the time to find out if it’s male or female. I would have simply stayed away! Great Picture!!!

when I moved into my home, my garage had large female black widows in each corner. The females are much larger and have a perfectly spherical abdomen. (the males were living about 3 feet above in their own bachelor pad) The most badass of the bunch that I found was under my deck and she had built her mess of a web over two wasps nests and needless to say, I don’t have a wasp problem.

Since I have small kids, I wasted no time in killing every single one of them.

The Western Widow is something of a misnomer: apparently, in this species, the females rarely, if ever, eat the males after mating. As a result, males may mate with several females during his lifetime, as opposed to the redback, where the male offers himself as a sacrificial meal to the female in order to allow him to fertilize more eggs, as well as thwart later males, as a full gravid female redback is rarely in the mood to mate.

Fross said:

Since I have small kids, I wasted no time in killing every single one of them.

Umm, this looks bad… Are you trying to protect the spiders from your kids?

Thank you very much. That just turned several of my arachnophobic blonde hairs snow white. We won’t discuss the SCREAM.

You can tell the males from the females at a glance, and yes, male redbacks are pretty much harmless to humans. Even the females are not actually dangerous unless you actually manage to touch one, which would always be inadvertent. They’re not actually aggressive, and won’t come out of their web after you. (The web is always suspended above some surface where insects might crawl, and the spider operates by dropping sticky strands on them and hauling them up.)

But redbacks are not like a Sydney funnelweb. Now they are nasty. They’ll pop out of their burrow and go for you. They are also perhaps the deadliest spider on Earth, with a venom cocktail for which no antiveneme existed before, I think 1985, and even now the dose and mixture has to be tinkered with to neutralise all the really bad toxins.

(From the Book of Deadly Poisonous Australian Creatures, volume twenty-three, Fugu to Funnelweb.)

GvlGeologist, FCD said:

Fross said: Since I have small kids, I wasted no time in killing every single one of them.

Umm, this looks bad… Are you trying to protect the spiders from your kids?

LOL. I just finished reading Steven Pinker’s The Language Instinct tons and tons of examples like this. English lacks the gender markers for the third person plural pronoun. If there was a “them+neutral gender modifier” which is different from “them+human gender modifier” in English, this confusion would not have arisen.

Many languages considered primitive by general public, have surprisingly clear distinctions for “you+me”, “me+another person but not you”, “you+me+another person”, “you+me+several persons”, and tenses like, “before yesterday”, yesterday, earlier today, now, later today, tomorrow, later than tomorrow.

But those languages are no pun.

My mum told me about one time she got her hand bitten by a redback. She called the hospitsl, they asked her if there were red streaks on her arm and she said no. They told her that she’d probably be alright and she was. I ownder what it is that determines the severity of spider bites, would it very a lot even within one species?

I wonder what it is that determines the severity of spider bites, would it very a lot even within one species?

There’s probably a lot of variables to that: species; size of spider; gender of spider; how upset the spider is at the time; how long since it’s bitten something (or somebody?) else; weight of person bitten; where on the body; probably others I haven’t thought of.

Henry

Australia has the Red Back spider, which is very similar (and also in the same genus). We have been able to export them to New Zealand (along with our huntsman spider) and Japan. They are very ubiquitous and (mostly) harmless. Once every few years I clean behind book cases inside my house, and it isn’t unusual for me to find one or two Red Back spider webs (with spider), and I hadn’t noticed them up to then.

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on October 26, 2009 12:00 PM.

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