False Black Widow

How to Spot a False Black Widow

The term “false black widow” refers to a certain type of spiders than are commonly confused to be widow spiders, such as the well-known black widow.

Fear of black widows is not misplaced. Of the thousands of species of spiders in North America, it is one of only two (the other being the brown recluse) that should give humans cause for alarm.



While it is rare for a black widow to bite a human, when it does happen, the results can be quite serious. The venom can have an impact on the nervous system.  The bites can be quite painful and, in some cases, cause respiratory problems and other symptoms.

Because the black widow is so well-known, it is no wonder that any spider that remotely resembles it could be mistaken for it.

False black widows, called Steatoda, do have a similar shape as the widow spiders.  Steatoda includes about 120 species of spiders. Some of these spiders have bites that can be painful, but none that produce the potentially harmful effects of the widow spiders.

The best way to tell the difference between a true widow spider and a false black widow is to look for the tell tale markings on the abdomen of a true widow.  On some widow spiders, this would be a pattern of red dots while others feature two red triangles that form an hourglass shape.



The Good News

The good news about widow spiders, false black widows and every other type of spider is that spider bites to humans are rare.  Many times, when they do bite, the bite is harmless.  That being said, there are some real dangers when coming in contact with a true widow spider or the aforementioned brown recluse.

While the differences between a true widow and a false black widow can be learned, if you see a spider that you think might be dangerous, it’s best not to try and investigate the underside of the creature.

Of course, if it has already bitten a human then such an investigation is the first thing you should do so you’ll know best how to proceed in regard to treating the bite.

The dangerous spiders listed in this article mostly stay in dark, uninhabited areas. They are not interested in being near you any more than you are interested in being near them. However, they do reside in garages and other outbuildings and, at times, end up in homes.

Just know that your chances of seeing a true widow spider are rare in most part of the United States.  If you see a spider that could be a widow, it is best to eliminate that spider.  Even if it is a false widow, these are not the kind of spiders that you want as house guests.



A Few Fun Facts

One Steatoda species is best known for the fact that it likes to catch and devour true widow spiders.

These spiders are not going to bite humans in a show of force. Instead, they typically bite when they feel the need to defend themselves.

Their bites, while painful, do not usually produce long lasting complications.

While there are important difference, most would agree that running into a false black widow wouldn’t be much more fun than encountering a true widow spider!