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Black widows are poisonous, dark-colored arachnids found on all continents except Antarctica, in the genus Latrodectus and family Theridiidae. Although barely lethal to humans, they are still known as the most notorious in North America for their neurotoxic venom.
See the fact file below for more information on the black widow spider or alternatively, you can download our 25-page Black Widow Spider worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- In 1775, Johan Christian Fabricius first described these species and classified it in the genus Aranea, but then moved it to the genus Latrodectus in 1837 by Charles Walckenaer.
- According to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), there are 31 species of black widow spiders, including the Latrodectus hesperus (western black widow), Latrodectus mactans (southern black widow), and Latrodectus variolus (northern black widow).
- The three species look exactly alike, but there exist numerous references claiming L. mactans as the “black widow”, no matter where these spiders come from.
- Just like other arachnids, black widows are predatory animals with two body segments, eight legs, no chewing mouthparts, and no wings.They also have a hard exoskeleton composed of chitin and protein.
- Female black widows can grow up to a length of 1.5 in (3.8 cm), with long slender legs and a round abdomen. They are gloss black with a red hourglass mark, usually found on the underside of the female’s abdomen, and one or two red spots over their spinnerets.
- Male black widows are about half the females’ size, with an elongated abdomen having four pairs of red and white stripes, and legs longer than females. They are not much of a threat to predators due to being less venomous.
- Known as notorious creatures, their brightly colored markings serve as warning to predators.
- Ordinarily, it feeds on insects. The black widow diet is carnivorous – it eats woodlice, diplopods, chilopods, and other arachnids.
- Using their cheliceral fangs, black widows inflict a small wound on their prey, sucking up digestive enzymes.
- Their most known predators are the blue mud-dauber wasp, Chalybion californicum, and the spider wasp, Tastiotenia festiva.
- Some parasites also feed on the black widow’s egg sacs.
- Black widows are found in terrestrial environments. They thrive in dark places, cluttered areas, and piles of wood or rubble.
- Their web serves as their home, defense against predators, an effective trap for preys, and a means of communication between males and females.
- It seeks shelter in a building due to cold weather and a need for dry area.
- A mature male spins its “sperm web” and deposits a small amount of semen on it. He wanders for a female black widow and begins courting her. He vibrates the threads of the female’s snare, letting her know that he is a mate.
- Females often kill and eat the males after mating; thus, the term “widow”. This also explains the males’ short lifespans.
- Females create papery egg sacs that contain many eggs. These eggs hatch after about 30 days.
- Spiderlings (juveniles) are brown, orange, and white. It takes two to four months for them to be mature enough to breed.
- Black widows are shy and nocturnal arachnids. Mating is their only social activity. During daylight, they spend their time in the silken tunnel of their webs.
- The female black widow typically hangs upside down in her web, making the red hourglass marking visible for predators. If disturbed, it will drop out of its web an will pretend to be dead.
- They are tangled web weavers. Their webs lack in shape and form but the silk they produce is stronger than almost all other arachnids.
Black Widow Spider Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the black widow spider across 25 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Black Widow Spider worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the black widows which are poisonous, dark-colored arachnids found on all continents except Antarctica, in the genus Latrodectus and family Theridiidae. Although barely lethal to humans, they are still known as the most notorious in North America for their neurotoxic venom.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Black Widow Facts
- Black Widow Anatomy
- A Day in a Life
- Black Widow and Friends
- Ask Black Widow
- Spider Crossword
- Black Widow or Not?
- Trivia Time
- Spot the Black Widow
- Black Widow Bite
- Action Reaction
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Link will appear as Black Widow Spider Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, September 19, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.