Brown Widows Making a Surge in Southern California

  • July 9, 2012

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Brown Widows Making a Surge in Southern California

The first brown widow in Southern California was reported in 2003. But now Californian Entomologists are reporting a recent surge in brown widow populations. Richard Vetter, a staff research associate at UC Riverside, said, “The brown widow is really taking over.” In fact, a recent study found that brown widows are 20 times more prevalent than black widows.

Brown widows are not to be mistaken for their venomous cousin, the black widow. A common question is whether or not brown widows are poisonous. While their bite does inject venom, it is not as dangerous as a black widow. A brown widow bite may initially hurt, followed by a burning sensation, but that is the extent of the symptoms.

Brown widows are commonly found in areas immediately surrounding the home. The study Vetter and his colleagues conducted found brown widow spiders underneath patio furniture, on the underside of garbage can handles, beneath playground equipment, and under curled lips of outdoor plant pots. These spiders were rarely found in sheds and garages, and were not found in any homes. Brown widows prefer to live underneath molded plastic surfaces.

Entomologists believe that the recent surge in brown widow populations should diminish. It is common for a species to grow too quickly, overshoot an equilibrium point, and dwindle until they’ve reached a sustainable number.

The large amount of brown widows has not diminished black widow populations. This is because they inhabit different niches in their environments.

To find out how to identify brown widows go to


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