Sacramento's Black Widows
Winter brings some of the longest nights of the year, which is just what nocturnal arachnids thrive on. The darkness gives them the confidence to creep around without being seen and then return to secreted places like underneath wooden decks, porches and your houses’ piping. Then summer comes along and these widows come out from hiding to mate and hatch their young, a spun nest that can contain hundreds of eggs. But what’s more interesting is the behavior of the widow spider, specifically the male brown widow, an invasive species in California.
Female black widow webs carry a pheromone-laced silk to attract males. This sticky web can be detected 67 yards away and inform male widows of their mating history and hunger level. This same web can continue to attract up to 40 males each night. Pretty impressive, right? Of course, reaching a female’s web can take a turn for the worst, as the male widow wreaks havoc on her silken abode, he methodically tears her web apart.
While this isn’t always a bad thing if the female wants to mate, the male widow can stay longer than his welcome and become more of an annoyance when the female black widow becomes hungry and goes to rebuild the web for her offspring. The myth that female black widows always kill and eat their mate is not totally false, but very far from true. You can say it’s like a game of Russian Roulette.
To bring some light to the matter, the feared female black widows are not aggressive spiders and their bites are not necessarily considered deadly to humans. They are quite shy and just want to be left alone. But that doesn’t mean they don’t tread and get comfortable in areas where they aren’t wanted, like your home. It does give you a different perspective though on this wicked-looking creature!
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