The female of the species

Black Widow Spider - Copyright Y

Today, I was a bit startled when I found this colorful spider as I reached in to grab the hose.

Shame on me! I should have seen the irregular web extending out from under the lid of the box that hides the garden hose on the back patio. I should have been wearing my gardening gloves.

I had never seen a black widow spider with any markings other than the well known hour glass on the abdomen and was excited thinking I had discovered a new variety of black widow. This one definitely had the red hourglass on the abdomen but in addition, there were bright red and white markings on the back.

A pest control website identified a photo of a similar spider as a male black widow but after some more research, it turns out that the spider I found is more likely a juvenile female. But since i’m not an arachnologist, you will need to do your own research.

Black Widow Spider Egg Sack Copyright Y

This spider was very active. Unusually active!

Normally, when I happen upon an insect one of two things takes place – they quickly run away to hide or they shrink in size and pause completely still waiting for me to make the first move. This one however did neither of these two things. This arachnid danced and somersaulted on the web trying to show off the hourglass coloration on its abdomen or perhaps trying to distract me from spotting the egg sack in the corner of the lid. I still don’t have any idea what was going on.

I have never seen a spider behave this way ever. Including, waiting for me to go into the house to get my camera. Had I left a scorpion unobserved, he would definitely not wait for my return.

Black Widow Escapes - Copyright Y

Eventually, it retreated to safety into a dark crack.

From all the things we know about black widow spiders, the one fact that is always mentioned in conversation is about the female eating the male. But today, as I tried to research on the web trying to identify my colorful widow spider, I happened on this post entitled How To Survive a Black Widow – It turns out that “there is hope for male spiders”. Fascinating! The post is based on research from ASU.edu – here are the search results for Male Black Widow Spider

And in case you are still reading, here’s a treat.

I went through a phase were I loved listening to the CD Spiders by Space and one very special line about “the female of the species” being “more deadlier than the male”.

When I shared this on facebook, my friend Joy helped me discover the original 1911 poem by Rudyard Kipling.

and so if you are still reading, I will leave you with his words:

But the Woman that God gave him, every fibre of her frame
Proves her launched for one sole issue, armed and engined for the same;
And to serve that single issue, lest the generations fail,
The female of the species must be deadlier than the male.

Share the beauty: