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Widow spider from PA


vfox
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Okay admittedly I killed this girl but I didn't realize what it was before I tossed her in some alcohol. I'm collecting insects for an art project im working on and I decided to move some logs to look for well, whatever. Anyway I saw this black spider in a crevice and grabbed it with my tongs and tossed it into my jar. Only afterwards did I realize it was a type of widow. It's the first time I've ever seen a widow anywhere other than vegas and I'm kinda sad I ended up killing it. Tomorrow I'm going back and maybe I'll find some more. I'll try and post a picture in a bit.

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I would agree, thats definatley a Southern Black widow, which is not uncommon in this area. I dont see many widows at all, and, ironically all I have seen is one southern! Now Florida and NC on the other hand. Florida has Brown widows EVERYWHERE. And they look just like an orb or common house spider at first glance, then you notice the orange markings and the legs. Very cool find.

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Being from PA its almost certainly Latrodectus variolus, or the northern widow. Another good way to tell that is that L. mactans (southern widow) typically have full hourglasses while L. variolus and L. hesperus both are known to have reduced or half hourglasses(such as this individual) - pattern is not always an effective means of distinction though. Very nice find and spider. :)

As an aside about L. geometricus, these are probably one of the most successful and widespread invasive species known to man... In my area of Southern California they have been out-competing our native L. hesperus in residential areas.

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Beautiful specimen.

My 5 year old daughter and I were out hunting roaches in a park a few months ago and I found a large Black widow under a piece of cardboard. There were some tiny roach nymps there as well.

We were already hunting for roaches for around 2 hours in the heat and had only found 2 Pycnoscelus surinamensis which I can find by the hundreds in my own yard. It was very disappointing that the only "different" roaches that we found at that park were under that cardboard with the Black widow.

Anyway, I was trying to coax the spider to move so I could try to catch those very small and fast nymphs. She instead made a run for our supplies that were on the ground where my daughter was standing and I killed her out of fear for my child. :(

All of those yet unidentified nymphs got away during my murdering episode and we went home with nothing interesting that day. :angry: My daughter was angry with me and cried because I killed the spider, I cried too. I feel that the spider wouldn't have been a danger to us, and could have lived if we just walked away and left her and those nymphs, but I was greedy and really wanted some roaches at the end of our disappionting hunt.

That was the only Black widow that I have ever seen in South Florida, and also one of the most beautiful spiders I have ever seen.

I feel that I have learned an important lesson, and next time I encounter such a situation, I will walk away without harming anything.

If something that venomous is in my home I will kill it, but I let the Cellar spiders live here and even chase them away from their corners so I can clean up all of the dead ants and other pests that they kill. They will go back and make new webs in strategic places where ants enter our home. I like that since I have been letting them stay, and not sweeping them up with the rest of the trash, I have no ant problems in my home, like I used to. ;)

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I went out yesterday and found another one under some bark. Another immature northern widow. I kept this one alive and it's currently in a mason jar on my invert stand. My wife doesn't want me to keep it so once I have some time to photograph it I will release her back ion the woods. It's crazy, I go 28 years of looking for stuff in the woods without ever seeing a widow and now I found two in the past few days!

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I went out yesterday and found another one under some bark. Another immature northern widow. I kept this one alive and it's currently in a mason jar on my invert stand. My wife doesn't want me to keep it so once I have some time to photograph it I will release her back ion the woods. It's crazy, I go 28 years of looking for stuff in the woods without ever seeing a widow and now I found two in the past few days!

Isn't it funny how that works? :P

If I didn't have a small child, I would be tempted to keep one myself. I have always wanted to observe(in person) their unique way of pulling prey up to them in their webs. :)

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I took some images of the live widow I found a few days ago. These are a little better than the ones taken from my cellphone. And yes she is sitting on a groundhog jawbone. I happen to find it when I found her and she has seemingly adopted it as a perch. :P

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  • 2 weeks later...

I found another one for you guys. I would guess this is a mature female L. variolus but honestly I have absolutely no clue. What has me really thrown off is the bizarre coloration on its abdomen were the hourglass shape should be and behind the spinnerets. I'm pretty sure I see a triangle shape at least but no real hourglass or divided hourglass. I will try and get some better images tomorrow.

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