|Description:||This 2007 photograph, captured by CDC biomedical photographer, James Gathany, depicted a female black widow spider, Latrodectus mactans, as she was in the process of spinning her web upon a tree branch. You’ll note the characteristic red hourglass located on her inferior abdominal surface, which can vary in coloration from yellowish, to shades of orange and red, and at times, can even be white. The female’s body is an overall shiny jet-black in color. This spider was found on a farm, here in the state of Georgia.|
Spiders are members of the Phylum Arthropoda, and the Class Arachnida. Based on their habitats, the three species of black widow include the southern, L. mactans, northern, L. variolus, and western, L. hesperus. Human beings are bitten not as prey, but when a female spider feels threatened.
Females are poisonous, injecting a potent neurotoxic venom, i.e., 15X more potent than that of the rattlesnake, when it bites its victim, while the male L. mactans is harmless. Though venomous, the quantity of poison is so minute that death from a black widow bite is rarely fatal, though usually very painful.