black widow spider is really quite common. Fortunately it is very
shy, and tends to hide in places people seldom go, small dark
spaces. In this case the spider spun its web in an overturned
flower pot. When working near small dark places in the garage,
under the house, around the wood pile, I make it a practice to never
put a finger any place I can't see into. Especially if there are
shapeless webs in the vicinity. Bites need immediate treatment
even if they don't hurt at first.
By twitching her web
with a stick, I persuaded this spider to come see what she might have
caught. Here you can see the characteristic red spot on her under
side. When I first looked into the pot, she had her legs pulled
in tight and looked like a round black lump, a defencive posture.
Here the black widow spider is coming directly at you. It's time to back off, but don't panic. The spider really doesn't want you, and she can't jump. But she may have trouble telling the difference between your finger and a tasty bug. The tangled web is designed more to trap crawling insects rather than flying ones.
A close relative, the brown widow has become common in Southern
California since 2003. In 2008, it appears to me that the brown widow is more numerous than the
black widow ever was, and is driving the native black widow out.
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