Underdogs of the Animal World: Black Widow Spider

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.

Despite popular belief, black widows aren’t really that dangerous. I mean, yeah, if they bite you, you’ll know about it. The female’s bite is three times more powerful than the male’s, and is said to be as strong as a rattlesnake’s, so the fleeing in terror is definitely justified. But most people won’t die when bitten. The most at risk are the elderly and children, so if you see a spider, toss your granny at it and run. Problem solved. Of course, if you’re a fan of your granny, you might not want to use her as a human shield, but it’s OK. Black widows will only bite when they feel threatened, e.g. if you sit on them or make snide remarks about Aragog. Then not only will you feel crazy pain, but Hagrid will be after you.

Black widows are hardly the life and soul of the party. They’re solitary creatures and only meet up to make babies and play a few quick games of Cards Against Humanity. In fact, the male black widow is so reclusive that he’s hardly ever seen by humans, which might actually be due to the fact that he’s cowering from his wife, who, as we know, gets some serious pregnancy cravings.

Speaking of baby making, when black widows do it, they really do it. Not content with one or two adorable eight legged babies, the female will lay around two hundred eggs. Yep, that’s two zero zero folks. Don’t freak out. Two hundred eggs does not equal two hundred babies. The black widows are hardcore cannibals from the start, nibbling out of their egg sacs only to start munching on their brothers and sisters, because being born is hungry work. Even though it’s not the nicest thought, at least it means waaaaaay less spiders wandering about, mistaking us for their husbands.

So yay for black widows, but most of all, yay for cannibalism!

Featured image via: Shutterstock, additional image via: Shutterstock.

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