Black Widow Update

About a month ago I did a post on the Brown Recluse and the Black Widow. I have discovered an interesting article on widow spiders so I am publishing a link to it for those who are interested.

It is in Science in Africa a great online magazine.

The Button Spiders of Southern Africa .

Friday Spider Blogging, Or Poisonous Spiders are my Totemic Animals!

You naughty, naughty people! Come looking for kinky spider lovin ! Come on admit it, that’s why you here! Although I have posted some nasty buggers, it’s not that kind of nasty!

It all started back in the mid nineties. My wife, my two daughters and I had moved out of married student housing (in Knoxville) and were renting a two bedroom house. Along the way we had acquired a kitten, which we named Pounce because he liked to pounce on peoples feet. Anyway, one day a rather mean looking spider comes walking across the floor and stops dead in front of the kitten, who promptly bit it in half. How weird. Several days later I saw another one, then a couple more. Within a week, we were killing about 5-6 a day (normally I don’t kill spiders that wander in doors – usually I set them free – but these were some nasty looking buggers). See for your self:
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Nasty Bugger
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Nastier Bugger

Anyway, one morning I woke up and my inner thigh was sore, started swelling. Every muscle and joint in my body started hurting, I developed a fever. Next day I went to the ER, but after spending eight hours in the waiting room gave up. Several days later I was taking a bath when the swollen area developed what looked like hundreds of tiny white blisters -which burst. After about a month of pain I finally started feeling better. I’m almost positive it was a brown recluse – and have a dead one I caught in a jar that I have schlepped around ever since. Granted, I’m not a doctor, or a spider expert, but it looks identical to the picture. The symptoms I experienced matched some of the lesser known symptoms of a brown recluse bite (the would doesn’t always ulcerate). As mean as they look, Brown Recluses are actually wussies . Apparently, they are quite timid, which jives with the spiders I had in my house.
here , here and here are some interesting references on the brown recluse. Oh, and this one .

Fast forward to the year 1999. we had moved back to Missouri from Tennessee and were on a camping trip in south-central Missouri. My wife and youngest daughter had started to walk down a trail near our campsite when I heard my wife hollar for my daughter to freeze. “afarensis”, she said, (well, okay, she actually called me by my real name)” come look at this. Is it what I think it is?” I walked over to where she was standing and saw:
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Black Widow 1

One of the most beautiful spiders (and one of the only real Black Widow spiders I have ever seen. Disclaimer: I didn’t have a camera that day so these pictures are from the web). There she was, working in her web in all her glory. After a few minutes of looking we carefully went back to our campsite. I resumed my barbecuing and a few minutes later along comes the diminutive male black widow. “Turn around” I told him “Run away, she’s going to eat you after you serve your purpose” Of course he didn’t listen and I found out later that in some species of black widow the female does not eat the male.
Interesting links: black widow phylogeny
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Black Widow 2

So that’s why I say poisonous spiders must be my totemic animal.