Black widow spiders: Facts about this infamous group of arachnids


Black widow spiders are several species of arachnids in the genus Latrodectus that are known for the females’ unique and striking appearance as well as their rumored tendency to eat their mates. They are the most venomous spiders in North America; however, their bite is rarely fatal to humans.

What do black widows look like?

As is the case for many types of spiders, male and female black widows look very different from each other. In all black widow species, “the females are the most distinctive, with shiny black bodies and a red hourglass-shaped marking on the underside of their round abdomen,” said Jo-Anne Nina Sewlal, an arachnologist at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad (Sewlal spoke with Live Science in 2014, and passed away in 2020.) The females’ hourglass marking can also be orange-yellow. 

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