Brown Widow Spider Scientific Name: Latrodectus geometricus
Brown Widow Spider Facts
The Brown Widow spider is a close relative of the better known species of the Black Widow spider. Found throughout America, this species is frequently found in warmer climates. Most southern states are home to this tropical arachnid, with highest populations of brown widows in California, New Mexico, Florida and surrounding states. Brown Widow spiders may also be found in Africa, Asia and in some remote parts of Europe and Australia.
Colors range from tan to dark brown, and are easily identifiable from Black Widows for this very reason. They share many other characteristics, such as a small body, measuring only half an inch long, with protruding legs. Unlike the Black Widow, the Brown Widow spider has intricate markings that range from yellow to tan that cover its legs and body in stripes. They are, however, just as deadly as Black Widows and contain the same amount of toxic venom.
Brown Widow Spider Identification
The Brown Widow spider has a soft, brown shell. While they have eight legs, as found in all spiders, their appendages are particularly thin and long, and the front legs are considerably longer in length. The legs also have a unique striped pattern that is easy to identify. The body of a female adult Brown Widow is only half an inch in length, with legs extending up to three inches, depending on maturity.
Their webs require the strength of an orb-weaving spider but have a very disorganized weaving pattern, much like that of the Black Widow spider. When removing webs, it is important to ensure that the female is not nearby and that there are no egg sacs inside to avoid the high bite risk. The male in this species is half the size of a female and is not thought to be venomous.
Brown Widow Spider Habitat
Brown Widow spiders are frequently found in woodpiles or under rocks and shrubs. Within the home, they are typically found in the garage, basement, crawlspace or other areas where they are less likely to be disturbed.
Females will spend the majority of their adult life guarding their nest. These webs can often be found in close proximity to a male population, but a Brown Widow mother will not venture away from her web or eggs, as she is very defensive.
Both sexes prefer a warm climate, with dark reclusive spots to hide. They will seek out areas with little human traffic. Rarer domestic sightings have included bathrooms, where toilets and bathtubs provide small crevices, garbage cans and other concealed containers in the garden are perfect for concealment.
Life Cycle of Brown Widow Spiders
A male Brown Widow spider will locate his mate cautiously to initiate courtship. This brief ritual will include touching her legs tentatively to provoke a receptive response. Once they have connected, they enter into copulation, where the male will insert his papal organs into his mate’s awaiting spermathecal entrance.
The female will carry her eggs for only 20 days before laying them in a sac. These sacs are notably spiky in appearance and are protected by the web. She will attend to them for either a few weeks or until they are fully mature, depending on her personal preferences.
The female may eat her mate after copulation, which is common of many spiders, though it doesn’t always happen. However, when this does take place, the common act is usually carried out to prevent the male from mating with other females and to provide key nutrients for the duration of motherhood.
Brown Widow Spider and Humans
The female Brown Widow spider has a venomous bite, which is usually initiated when her nest is disrupted. For this reason, most bites are delivered to the hands. A female will usually only bite if she feels her nest and eggs are in danger, in spite of the species’ notorious reputation. An anti-venom was created in 1965, and in the event of a spider bite, you should always seek medical attention immediately.
Brown Widow spiders are nocturnal, which means they are mostly active at night. During this time, they will hunt and mate, and females will continue to defend their nests. Most bites can be avoided by initiating any form of contact during daylight hours only, and correctly identifying the males from defensive females. Professional assistance is always recommended when controlling this domestic pest.
Brown Widow Spider Control
Due to the reputation of the Brown Widow spider, it is best to seek professional assistance in the event of locating a nest or spider in your home. Removal requires specific knowledge of the spider’s gender, and identification can be a tricky process.
These are some basic DIY measures you can establish within your home to help prevent Brown Widow spiders from entering your home:
Caulking and screening: Covering small holes with caulking and screening can help prevent spiders from entering your home. You should check that windows, entrances and doors are always completely sealed.
Pesticides: Can be applied inside and outside of your home to prevent and exterminate spiders but do not offer a complete guarantee. Always read the instructions and follow accordingly, and remove any dead spiders you find with caution, as they still contain venom.
Cleanliness: A deep clean will eliminate other problematic zones that can attract Brown Widow spiders. Burrowing or shedding skin will will alert you to their nesting grounds. This thorough cleaning should be repeated after any application of pesticides.
As the females contain deadly venom, it is best to contact a local pest control technician who has experience in removing and controlling Brown Widow spider populations safely. Finding a female can also indicate further problems in the near future. Children and pets should be kept away from known nesting areas until the problem is resolved.
Brown Widow Spider Entomology
The Brown Widow spider belongs to the Animalia kingdom, under the Arthropoda phylum. They are classed as Arachnida, as they are eight-legged animals. They also belong to the order of the Areneae, and suborder Araneomorphae.
Brown Widow spiders do not share the same genus as the Black Widow spider. These are uniquely categorized as Araneomorphae, but share the same Theridiidea family name. They are unique to the L. geometricus species.