The Black Widow Spider weighs about 1 gram and is only 2 inches long. But it is the most poisonous spider in North America! Only the adult females carry venom; males and young black widows are harmless. Female black widows are a shiny black all over with a reddish mark on the underside of the abdomen. Males have smaller bodies, longer legs, and red bands across their black backs.
This spider likes warm climates and deserts. It is found in the southwestern USA as well as in Mexico and parts of the Middle East. Often the black widow will be seen under rocks, on cliff edges, or near plants where they can build their webs. The webs of this spider do not have a definate pattern or shape. They are made of strong silk and the spider stays hidden inside for most of the day. At night it will come out to eat whatever insects are trapped in the web.
Black widows mate in the spring. Females lay eggs in special sacs that each hold between 250 and 700 eggs. After about 3 weeks, these eggs will hatch. Young black widow spiders are actually white or pale yellow--they turn black as they mature into adults. Sometimes these spiderlings will eat each other if food is scarce. It takes about 3 months for the spiderlings to become fully grown. They can live up to 3 years.