A common spider on the farm is the Black Widow (probably Latrodectus hesperus, the Western Black Widow). The pictured spider has been paralyzed by a Spider Wasp and is upside down. In the normal course of events it would have been dragged to a burrow where the wasp would have laid an egg on it. The spider, while alive but paralyzed, would have been wasp larva food. This one was collected by one of our daughters and was saved from the wasp. Unfortunately, they never recover from the wasps’ stings.
This spider is usually found in our out-buildings where they build very irregular webs. A well fed female will lay two or more tan egg sacs each containing a couple of hundred eggs. The egg sacs, suspended in the web are guarded by the female. Spiderlings hatch in about a month. They quickly disperse to find new homes.
Black Widows eat most insects and arachnids and are beneficial predators of insect pests. While their venom is powerful, they rarely bite and will try to escape rather than attack.
We leave them alone, only moving them when they are in a certain to-be-disturbed location.
Great shot, They’re awesome spiders. My sister kept them as ‘pets’–rescues from the basement and frisky cats, mostly. Females are almost always pregnant–like most, they store sperm to fertilize when they’re ready. Unfertilized females can literally eat themselves to death, without the calorie needs of creating egg sacs they’ll grow faster than they can molt and will crack their chitin.
As a child, much to the distress of my parents, I too kept black widows as pets. They had the advantage of needing little space and not requiring daily care, just the occasional feeding of a cricket or grasshopper. I did learn, however, that it isn’t wise to leave the egg cases in the house too long. Parents don’t seem to approve of hundreds of tiny black widows spreading out around the house.