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Black widow? - Latrodectus variolus - female

Black widow? - Latrodectus variolus - Female
Asheville, Buncombe County, North Carolina, USA
May 30, 2008
Size: Over an inch w/ legs
My 8-yr old son spotted this spider when we were camping just outside of Asheville in the Blue Ridge Mountains a few weeks ago. He found her under a log in the afternoon. We saw her again, or one of her friends, later that night walking through camp; she was so shiny we could see her by firelight. My son was so excited, he said, "Oh, look, mom, it's a black widow!" He wants to be an entomologist so this spider was very exciting :) But is it really a black widow? I thought they have an hourglass on their underside. Thanks!

Moved from Widow Spiders.

L. variolus. had several that
L. variolus. had several that looked EXACTLY like this :) ventral shot would be nice, but i'm pretty confident with just this pic.

to the genus page for now. I also cropped a little of the extra stuff out. Nice shot.

Looks like one to me
Black widows usually have an hourglass underneath, but some also have red on top. As I understand it, the young females have much more red on the abdomen, but more and more of the red is replaced by black each time she sheds her exoskeleton, until the red is all gone except for the hourglass underneath. Sometimes the process doesn't go all the way to the end, so markings can vary.

That is indeed a black widow.
That is indeed a black widow. Probably Latrodectus mactans.

It isn't uncommon for them to have red markings on their back as well as the red hourglass on their underside.

Northern Black Widow
Latrodectus variolus. Northern Black Widows tend to have a broken hourglass pattern, while the Southern species has the classic complete hourglass. More info on the markings here. Glad to hear from someone who doesn't automatically stomp these guys. Too much senseless violence in this world already.

My wife having spent 4 days in the hospital, followed by 4 weeks off work and a lengthy recuperation after that as a result of a Black Widow bite... well, we pretty much stomp 'em, I'm sorry to say. The ones you see aren't the ones that are the problem. It's true that most bites are not deadly. Her bite got right into a nerve on her wrist, resulting in quite a lot of neurological involvement, and apparently she got a blood infection which went septic after a week. Black widows CAN pack quite a bite. Respect them.

"Too much senseless violence
"Too much senseless violence in this world already." --I agree!

Thank you all for confirming this shiny little girl as a black widow :) Since moving to this part of the country, we've checked this site a few times for the new insects we're not used to seeing (we're from the Pacific Northwest). This place has GREAT bugs :)