The Brown Widow Spider

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Brown widow spider image by Matthew Field, GNU Free Documentation License 1.2
Brown widow spider image by Matthew Field, GNU Free Documentation License 1.2

The brown widow spider?

When we think of widows and spiders together, we think of the black widow spider, no? In reality, there are not one, but three slightly different versions of the black widow. There are the northern black widow, the southern black widow, and the western black widow spiders.

Easily identified by its disproportionately fat, round, shiny black body emblazoned with a red hourglass, the black widow is dangerous to the old and to the young.

The bite of the black widow elicits a variety of symptoms. These may include localized pain, cramping, nausea, a rise in blood pressure, and respiratory problems. For further details, see emedicinehealth.

It’s Not a One-Act Show

What is less well known is that there are other widow spiders. These include the red widow spider and the brown widow spider. The brown variety, Latrodectus geometricus, is of both great interest and great concern. It is a recent introduction in the state of California.

The Brown Widow Spider

Here is a truly excellent close-up of the female brown widow spider. Other deep south states are also infested with brown widow spiders. Unhappily, they are frequently found in people’s cars.

Although the coloration of the L. geometricus varies considerably, their egg sac is atypical of most spiders. The sacs have points or projections on them, suggesting an inflated blow fish.

Which News Do You Want First?

As to the brown widow, there is good news and there is bad news. The good news is they are retiring. They do not inject as much venom as a black widow does. The bad news? Their venom is twice as bad as that of the black widow.

The University of Southern California, Riverside, as is mentioned on its Center for Invasive Species web-page is asking residents of California counties to donate their brown widow spiders for research purposes.

Note: You may also enjoy The Brown Recluse Spider


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7 thoughts on “The Brown Widow Spider

  • Chuck Phillips

    About 2005, I was cleaning my outdoor air conditioning unit in Tucson, AZ and found a brown widow spider inside. It didn’t care for the cleaning fluid I was using – it simply shriveled up and died. I also had a black widow on the outside window pane I was washing about 1948 in Baltimore, MD. We don’t like each other as I won both battles.

  • Thank goodness we do not have these spiders in Northern Ireland! Well, yet anyway. With global warming and food from all over the world it’s probably only a matter of time.

    • Hi, Meg! I have heard tell (though I have not seen it verified) that the Antarctic is warming slightly, yet enough, for some crustaceans to survive in its chilly waters. Seafood lovers may enjoy this, but it is most decidedly NOT good news.

  • Stephanie Geach

    I think I was recently bitten by a brown widow spider. We have many of these spiders in our yard and we were cleaning out our garage when I felt a prick sensation. Now I’m sitting with a bite that looks like ringworm.

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