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Description:This 2010 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 is rare, though the bite is painful.

High Resolution: Click here for hi-resolution image (26.7 MB)
Content Providers(s):CDC/ James Gathany
Creation Date:2010
Photo Credit:
Links:CDC - Environmental Health Services - Pictorial Keys to Arthropods, Reptiles, Birds, and Mammals of Public Health Significance
CDC Organization
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Copyright Restrictions:None - This image is in the public domain and thus free of any copyright restrictions. As a matter of courtesy we request that the content provider be credited and notified in any public or private usage of this image.