Underdogs of the Animal WorldUnderdogs of the Animal World: Black Widow SpiderTilly Boscott

Firstly, congrats to the black widow spider for winning the ‘Most Deadly Spider in the U.S.’ award. Cue the academy thanking speech and arachnified celebrity selfie. Go on, you deserve it. If you’re a black widow dude reading this, somehow giving yourself an impressive pat on the back, stop. Yeah, while the black widow ladies have been doing their bit for the venomous cause, the menfolk have been sitting back on their super comfy laurels and doing… Well not much actually. Apart from dying, which is where their major talent lies.

While the female black widow hangs out on the planet for up to three years, the men only tend to survive for a few months. This might be because of natural causes, like wasps or birds, but is more likely to be down to a rogue vase, since the males and the females are not that great at getting along. I’m sure you all know that the black widow gobbles up her fella after mating (which is where the name came from), but do any of us know the reason why? Perhaps he has spoiler syndrome and ruined GoT for everyone, not just via all social messaging feeds but with a smoke signal for good measure. Perhaps he’s born coated in Cool Whip. It’s likely we’ll never know, but ask yourself this: Could you suffer a man wearing desserts to not be nibbled on? Lawyered.

So how will you know, when approached by a spider, whether it’s a black widow intent on keeping up their kill streak, or your friendly local arachnid, whose only wish is to collect money for the less fortunate and ply you with vegan cupcakes for your kindness? Luckily, the female black widow has some fetch markings to help with your decision to put your hand in your pocket or run away screaming. All female black widows have two red triangles on their backs, which look quite like an hourglass, possibly in order to remind you of your impending mortality. Males aren’t as gaudily blessed, since they’re too busy trying not to die to take an interest in beauty. No-one tell Bobbi Brown.

If you’ve ever seen a black widow’s web and happen to be Ted Mosby, you might have laughed. Even though black widows are super menacing, you wouldn’t know it from their architecture. That’s because it looks like they either really don’t know what they’re doing, or couldn’t be bothered and fell down a Tumblr hole. But black widows are actually awesome at design, and their webs are not tangled messes but rather hardcore funnels of silk that bugs can’t help but get trapped in. It’s unlikely that you will though, since black widows like to hang upside down at the center of the web exposing their hourglass tattoos, just so you know exactly what level of terror you’re dealing with.

Worky, worky- Oh look! A GIF!

Worky, worky- Oh look! A GIF!

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  1. As a person who lives in Nebraska which is prime black widow and rattlesnake country, I found this a witty and fun read, which always makes learning fun. I’ve lived here 5 years and only have seen one black widow which I firmly evicted from my blue cushy chair where it was lounging and put it outside. Unlike my 8 legged lady murderess, I’m not and she lived to see another day.