Print Posted By Lost in France on 1 Sep 2008 in Wildlife - Wildlife and nature in France

The European Black Widow Spider

A female Mediteranean Widow Spider

The European or Mediterranean black widow spider Latrodectus tredecimguttatus can pack a very nasty bite, the venom can produce convulsions and a lowering of body temperature. Although the bite is rarely fatal to humans it can be dangerous to the very young, elderly or those with weak hearts.

The European Black Widow Spider can be found in the south of France, Corsica and elsewhere along the Mediterranean.

This black widow spider has a shiny black body, the juveniles and adult males of the species are characterised by the 13 spots which mark their backs. In the male spider the spots are a creamy white colour while the young females have red (sometimes yellow to orange) markings. Adult females are all black in colour.

A male Mediteranean Widow Spider

The female spider is quite large between 10-15mm across while males are much smaller often less than half the size of the female.

Fortunately these spiders seldom venture indoors preferring grassy areas and in particular hot dry areas such as coastal dunes. They tend to build their webs close to the ground especially in abandoned rodent holes and underneath rocks and logs.

Widow spiders get their name because the female of the species is often thought to eat the male spider after mating. In the case of the European Black Widow this is largely untrue as the male spider stops eating before mating and consequently dies shortly after.

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