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Black Widow Spiders Essay

2424 words - 10 pages

Adult black widow spiders have a shiny, black, rounded, circular abdomen and
are about 1/3 inch long (about 1-1/2 inches when their legs are spread).
Adult spiders have two reddish or yellowish triangles on their bottom which
looks like an hourglass marking, and their body color is dark colored usually
black or sometimes dark brown. They are usually recognized because of their
red or red-orange hourglass design on the bottom of their abdomen. This
pattern is changeable and may look like two separated spots. In some spiders
there is no pattern on the abdomen. The immature stages of both sexes of the
widow spiders have red or red-orange or yellow spots and strips on the top
...view middle of the document...

They don't
produce a web like the weaving spiders do or the funnel pattern webs that the
funnel weaver spider's make.

The female lays eggs in silken cocoon sacs about 1/2-inch in width. The sack
is a pear shaped, and is a creamy yellow, light gray, or light brown in
color. They usually lay about 300 to 400 eggs per sac and have 4 to 9 egg
sacs made during a summer. But only 1 to 12 young survive after the egg
incubation period of about 14 to 30 days because of cannibalism. Growth
requires 2 to 4 months depending on availability of prey during which the
females shed 6 to 8 times and the males 3 to 6 times. Females mature 92 days
after the egg sac outburst and live for about 179 days, while males mature 71
days after outburst and live for 30 days. Because usually the female eats
the male after they mate. But sometimes if females are well fed, the males
get away to mate for another day. The females hang belly upward and very
rarely leave the web. In cold weather and droughts it can cause these
spiders to go into buildings. Prey caught in the web include a many
different insects (cockroaches, flys, and beetles) and other arthropods. The
female black widow is shy and usually only goes out at night. But when she
leaves her web she usually goes far away from her the web. Outbreaks of
black widows occur off and on. Some years an area may have thousands of
widows and the next year they may be gone. Certain kinds of habitats such as
sand dune areas may have black widows every year. Alternating warm and cold
weather during the winter and spring months are harmful to their survival.
The venom of the black widow spider is 15 times as toxic as the venom of the
prairie rattlesnake. However, only a small amount of the toxin is injected
with a single bite by the spider, while the relatively large amount of
injected rattlesnake venom results in about 15 to 25 percent mortality among
those bitten.

The severity of a person's reaction to the bite depends on where you were
bitten, amount of venom injected and the depth of bite. When a black widow
spider bits you it injects a toxin that affects the nervous system. At
first, there may be only slight swelling and two faint red spots surrounded
by redness at the bite. Pain may be intense in one to three hours and could
stay for up to 48 hours. Pain usually starts from the bitten limb up or down
the arm or leg and then restrict in the abdomen and back. Also muscle and
chest pain or tightness in those areas are some common reactions to a black
widows toxin. The pain can also spread to the abdomen which causes cramping
and nausea. The abdominal muscles may become stiff and board-like with
severe cramps. There can be pain your muscles and soles of the feet and your
eyelids may become swollen. Other symptoms include restlessness, anxiety,
breathing and speech difficulty, tremors, vomiting and sweating. Swelling
can be noticed in extremities...

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