We couldn't very well do an article on scary spiders and leave out the black widow, could we? Latrodectus Hesperus, which is found in temperate regions throughout the world, has a bulbous body and a distinctive, hourglass-shaped mark on its abdomen. It is just 1.5 inches (38 millimeters) in length, but its size is deceptive. The spider's venom reportedly is 15 times stronger than that of a rattlesnake, and if the creature bites you, the result is achy muscles, nausea and a paralysis of the diaphragm that can make breathing difficult.
Fortunately, most people who are bitten by black widows don't suffer any serious or permanent injury, though the venom can be fatal to small children, the elderly or people in poor health. Black widows are most infamous for their violent macabre mating behavior, in which females sometimes kill and eat their mates after copulation. And you thought "Love Hurts" was just an old heavy metal song [source: National Geographic].
Author's Note: 10 Amazing, Beautiful, TERRIFYING Spiders
I've always been interested in spiders, dating back to my childhood, when I noticed a spider build a web in the opening of our bathroom window. If I stood on the side of the bathtub, I could watch the spider maneuvering around on the silken strands. One day I noticed another insect -- it looked like some sort of beetle -- venturing into the web, and becoming entangled. After that, I watched in equal parts fear and fascination as the spider leisurely dissected and devoured its prey, in the equivalent of a miniature monster film that only I got to see. Unfortunately, soon afterward my mother apparently noticed the web and swept it away in the interests of neatness, and I had to find another source of entertainment.
- Animal Diversity Web. "Salticus scenicus." (July 14, 2014). http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Salticus_scenicus/
- Arachne.org.au. "Austrarchaea raveni Rix and Harvey, 2011 D'Aguilar Range Assassin Spider." (July 6, 2014) http://www.arachne.org.au/01_cms/details.asp?ID=2131
- Arkive. "David Bowie spider (Heteropoda davidbowie)." Arkive.org. August 2012. (July 7, 2014) http://www.arkive.org/david-bowie-spider/heteropoda-davidbowie/
- Brisbane Insects. "Bird-dung Crab Spider - Phrynarachne sp." (July 6, 2014) http://www.brisbaneinsects.com/brisbane_spiders/BirdDungCrabSpider.htm
- Burke Museum. "Myths about "Dangerous" Spiders." (July 7, 2014) http://www.burkemuseum.org/spidermyth/myths/tarantula.html
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Workplace Health and Safety Topics. "Venomous Spiders." Feb. 24, 2012. (July 6, 2014) http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/spiders/
- Cohen, Tamara. "The shape of fear... why spiders scare us so much: Humans are hardwired to fear their angular legs and unpredictability." Daily Mail. June 12, 2012. (July 6, 2014) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2158452/The-shape-fear--spiders-scare-Humans-hardwired-fear-angular-legs-unpredictability.html#ixzz36kMRI6Oz
- Drake, Nadia. "These Are the Most Exquisitely Weird Spiders You Will Ever See." Wired.com. July 21, 2013. (July 6, 2014) http://www.wired.com/2013/07/weirdest-spiders-ever/
- Earth Rangers. "Top 10 Scariest Spiders." Earthrangers.com. Oct. 17, 2012. (July 6, 2014) http://www.earthrangers.com/wildwire/top-10/top-ten-scariest-spiders/
- Fathallah, Jason. "Atrax robustus." Animal Diversity Web. 2000. (July 7, 2014) http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Atrax_robustus/
- Gettling, Tug. "Creepiest Halloween Creatures." Daily Herald. Oct. 14, 2012. (July 6, 2014) http://www.heraldextra.com/lifestyles/pets/tug-gettling-creepiest-halloween-creatures/article_fac0c207-7960-5ae3-a28a-a4e28cec3665.html%20%20
- Gholipour, Bahar. "They're alive! 'Goliath' tarantulas among spiders at new exhibit." CBS News. July 2, 2014. (July 6, 2014) http://www.cbsnews.com/news/theyre-alive-goliath-tarantulas-among-spiders-at-new-exhibit/
- Libbe, Kelsey. "Salticus scenicus." Animal Diversity Web. 2013 (July 7, 2014)
- LifeDesks. "Ariamnes flagellum (Doleschall, 1857)." Spiderindia.lifedesks.org. (July 7, 2014) http://spiderindia.lifedesks.org/pages/19604
- Lutz, Ashley. "New Therapy Has Arachnophobes Holding Tarantulas In Six Months." Business Insider. May 24, 2012. (July 6, 2014) http://www.businessinsider.com/new-therapy-has-arachnophobes-holding-tarantulas-in-six-months-2012-5
- Murray, Noel. "Kingdom of the Spiders." Avclub.com. Feb. 3, 2010. (July 6, 2014) http://www.avclub.com/review/kingdom-of-the-spiders-37813
- National Geographic. "Black Widow Spider Latrodectus Hesperus." Nationalgeographic.com. (July 7, 2014) http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/bugs/black-widow-spider/
- National Geographic. "Egyptian Giant Solpugid (Camel Spider)." Nationalgeographic.com. (July 6, 2014) http://www.mnh.si.edu/highlight/sem/spiders.htmlhttp://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/bugs/egyptian-giant-solpugid/
- Natural History Museum. "Theraphosa blondi (Goliath bird-eating spider)." Nhm.ac.uk. (July 7, 2014) http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nature-online/species-of-the-day/biodiversity/loss-of-habitat/theraphosa-blondi/
- O'Connor, William. "Dracopedia The Bestiary: An Artist's Guide to Creating Mythical Creatures." Impact. 2013. (July 7, 2014) http://books.google.com/books?id=raf4c5jULvsC&pg=PA63&dq=macracantha+arcuata&hl=en&sa=X&ei=as66U9WnM4uUyATl-oKoBw&ved=0CCEQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=macracantha%20arcuata&f=false
- Price, Liz. "Cave fauna 5 – Liphistius." Cavesofmalaysia.com. 2008. (July 7, 2014) http://www.cavesofmalaysia.com/photopage18.htm
- Singapore Red Data Book. "Scientific name Platythomisus octomaculatus." Nparks.gov.sg. (July 7, 2014) https://www.nparks.gov.sg/cms/docs/redbook/platythomisus-octomaculatus.pdf
- Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. "Spiders." Mnh.si.edu. (July 6, 2014) http://www.mnh.si.edu/highlight/sem/spiders.html
- The Telegraph. "Insects and Spiders That Have Mastered the Art of Disguise." Telegraph.co.uk. (July 6, 2014) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthpicturegalleries/9373146/Insects-and-spiders-that-have-mastered-the-art-of-disguise.html
- The Week Staff. "7 of the Scariest Spiders in Existence." The Week. Oct. 17, 2012. (July 6, 2014) http://theweek.com/article/index/234931/7-of-the-scariest-spiders-in-existence
- University of California-Riverside. "Spider Research." Spiders.ucr.edu. (July 6, 2014) http://spiders.ucr.edu/
- Waldvogel, Michael and Apperson, Charles. "Insect Notes." Department of Entomology, North Carolina Cooperative Extension, NC State University, Ncsu.edu. 2008. (July 6, 2014) http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/Urban/spiders.htm
- World Spider Catalog. "References for species Macracantha arcuata (Fabricius, 1793)." Research.amnh.org. (July 7, 2014) http://research.amnh.org/oonopidae/catalog/references.php?id=16304
The brown recluse spider bite comes with a frightening mythology. HowStuffWorks gets to the reality of the brown recluse spider.