America’s three black widow species and the brown recluse spiders are considered the most dangerous spider species in the US. Unfortunately, Louisiana is home to the southern black widow species and the brown recluse species, but serious symptoms rarely follow most bites inflicted by these spiders. Of all three black widow species, the southern variety is involved with the greatest number of medically significant bite cases, but this is due to the species widespread distribution in the US. While bites inflicted by the brown recluse account for most medically significant spider bites in the US, black widows are not far behind. Black widows produce venom that is 15 times stronger than rattlesnake venom, making black widow venom the most toxic of all spider venoms in the US.
Black widows are easy to recognize due to their jet black exterior and well known red hourglass design on their abdomen. Black widows typically avoid establishing a presence within inhabited areas of a home; instead, balck widows are often found dwelling within garages, sheds, basements, barns and within cluttered areas surrounding houses. This is not necessarily the case when it comes to the brown recluse, as this species is not shy about establishing a significant presence within any room of a house. Also unlike black widows, the brown recluse is not necessarily easy to identify, and they are often confused with numerous other spider species that closely resemble the brown recluse. More than 2,000 black widow bite incidents are reported in the US each year, but luckily most black widow bites only see a small amount of venom injected beneath the skin, and some bites are completely free of venom. These days, fatalities resulting from black widow bites are exceedingly rare, but children, the elderly and immunocompromised individuals are at an increased risk of experiencing medically significant symptoms following a bite.
Have you ever found a black widow spider specimen in the wild?