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New Featured Creatures! Southern black widow, Latrodectus mactans by Amanda Eiden and Phillip Kaufman, UF.

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Adult female Southern black widow, Latrodectus mactans (Fabricius). Photograph by James L. Castner.

We are pleased to announce a new Spider Featured Creatures!

The Southern black widow spider, Latrodectus mactans (Fabricius), is a venomous spider found throughout the southeastern United States. Widow spiders received their name from the belief that they would kill and consume their mate following copulation. However, the practice was mainly observed in laboratory settings under crowded conditions. It is believed that sexual cannibalism within the widow species in natural settings is more associated with the male’s physical inability to escape rather than the female’s interest in consuming him (Breene and Sweet 1985).

Authors: Amanda L. Eiden and Phillip E. Kaufman, Entomology and Nematology Department, University of Florida.
Available at: http://entomology.ifas.ufl.edu/Creatures/URBAN/SPIDERS/black_widow_spider.htm

Thanks to Dr. Jennifer Gillett-Kaufman (gillett@ufl.edu ) for her submission of this UF-IFAS Featured Creatures Publication!