By Nancy Zuschlag, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension
The concept of a male-dominated society has yet to reach the world of the Black Widow spider.
In Widow society, the female is the aggressor. Though Black Widow bites occur infrequently, it's usually the female who does the biting by using her large fangs. To reduce the possibility of injury, Black Widow bites require immediate medical attention.
One reason the male Widow seldom bites is its size: It is smaller than the female and does not possess large enough fangs to penetrate the skin.
The female Widow spider's aggressive nature is true but may be overstated. Courtship begins when the male touches the female. Eventually the male walks over the female and surrounds her in a silk wrap, sometimes called the `bridal veil.' But, if the process loses its charm, the female may interrupt the proceedings and attack the male.
Widow spiders are common in much of Colorado. They prefer to nest near the ground in dark, undisturbed areas. Low shrubs can provide nesting areas as can small animal holes or wood piles.
Photo: Judy Sedbrook
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Date last revised: 01/05/2010