The Black Widow Spider's Habits & Adaptations

The black widow spider is one of the most well known and easily-identified spiders in the world, and also one of the most deadly. The black widow is easily identified by its dark body with long, thin legs, and a red hour glass shape on the top of its body.

Habitat

The black widow spider tends to live in warm weather climates, stretching farther below the equator than above, but these spiders are still capable of surviving into the lower edges of Canada. The black widow can adapt to live in a wide range of natural environments, ranging from very arid settings like deserts to lush environments such as rain forests.

Mating

The mating process of a black widow spider is a potentially fatal one for the males involved. When a male black widow locates the web of a female black widow, he will shake the web to alert the female that a male of her species is around and looking for a mate. Following mating, occasionally the female will kill and consume the mail. The black widow female then brings her clutch of eggs into her web where it can be protected until 50 to 100 offspring are born.

Eating

Black widow spiders have adapted to be capable of a very wide range of kills. Although the venom of the black widow is capable of fatal injury to much larger animals, the spider focuses primarily on a diet of insects around its web. Once an insect has fallen victim of the web, the spider wraps it up and injects a digestive enzyme which digests the prey inside the prey's body. The black widow then consumes the pre-digested innards of the prey.

Combed Feet

Like many other species of spiders with similar eating habits, the black widow adapted to develop combed rear legs. The spider uses these legs when wrapping up prey that is caught in the web, with the combed feet helping the spider to spread its silk around the body of the prey to preserve it until the black widow is ready to eat.