Latrodectus mactans
(Southern Black Widow)

Taxonomic Hierarchy

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Arachnida
  • Order: Araneae
  • Suborder: Araneomorphae
  • Family: Theridiidae
  • Genus: Latrodectus
  • Species: Latrodectus mactans

Common Name (AASMore information icon)

Southern Black Widow

Other Common Names

Black Widow, Black Widow Spider, Widow Spider, Hourglass Spider, Shoe Button Spider, Cobweb Spider, Comb-footed Spider, Tangle-web Spider, Gumfoot-web Spider, Button Spider

Author

Johan Christian Fabricius, 1775

Pronunciation

laa-tro-DEK-tuhs MAK-tans

Identification Traits

Disclaimer: The following table provides a quick overview of the spider's basic attributes. The physical traits are greatly generalized in order to aid in the identification and sorting of spider species using our search feature. This information is not exhaustive, and keep in mind that traits such as color, markings, and overall size and shape can vary widely within a species due to variables such as the spider's age, gender, diet, hydration level, climate, and habitat. Though experienced arachnologists and hobbyists can often classify spiders rather accurately based on their unique markings and general appearance, it's important to know that scientifically accurate spider identification relies on detailed taxonomic keys and microscopic examinations of a spider's reproductive organs.

Female iconFemale Male iconMale
Body size More information icon 5mm - 13.5mm 3mm - 5mm
Eye count 8
Primary Colors
Identifying Traits Smooth or shiny appearance, Spherical body, Unique pattern, Striped or banded legs, Legs solid color, Especially long legs
Web style Cobweb


Additional Remarks

  • Not the only “widow spider” in North America; there are also four other species of Latrodectus.
  • Females of this species are overall typically smaller in body length than females of Latrodectus hesperus and L. variolus.
  • Underside of abdomen has a bright red or orange hourglass-shaped marking (two connected triangles). Rarely, it make be faded, indistinct, or absent. (If the triangles are separated, it may be Latrodectus variolus instead.)
  • Top side of abdomen can have white stripes and red or orange spots on the black background; especially in immature specimens.
  • Adult males are tiny in comparison to the adult females.
  • Contrary to popular belief, female does not always eat her mate; it depends on the circumstances.
  • “Deadly” is a misnomer! Human deaths are extremely rare from a widow bite (or any other spider bite, for that matter). Anti-venom exists for treatment, but is rarely necessary; pain medication, muscle relaxers, and/or calcium gluconate are often all that’s needed.

Featured Pictures

Picture of Latrodectus mactans (Southern Black Widow) - Male - Dorsal Enlarge picture icon
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Picture of Latrodectus mactans (Southern Black Widow) - Female - Ventral,Webs Enlarge picture icon
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Picture of Latrodectus mactans (Southern Black Widow) - Female - Egg Sacs,Ventral Enlarge picture icon
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Picture of Latrodectus mactans (Southern Black Widow) - Female - Dorsal Enlarge picture icon
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Picture of Latrodectus mactans (Southern Black Widow) - Male - Dorsal Enlarge picture icon
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Picture of Latrodectus mactans (Southern Black Widow) - Male - Lateral Enlarge picture icon
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Picture of Latrodectus mactans (Southern Black Widow) - Male - Dorsal Enlarge picture icon
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Picture of Latrodectus mactans (Southern Black Widow) - Female - Dorsal Enlarge picture icon
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