Awww… Baby Black Widow Spiders

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Photos © 2011 Denise D. Greaves

Call this an unintentional science project. I found a black widow spider outside, not far from the patio door and put it into a jar, thinking I’d find another place for it later. A few days afterward, I noticed that the spider had spun a large round ball, clearly some kind of egg container. Since I didn’t note the date when I captured the spider, I don’t know how long it took for the eggs to hatch, but there was a surprise waiting for me on Wednesday evening.

What I saw when I looked at the jar on Wednesday, August 24:

Jar with black widow spider and offspring, 24 August 2011

Relative sizes of parent and offspring:

Black widow spider and offspring, 25 August 2011

Close-up of baby spiders:

Baby black widow spiders, 25 August 2011

As you can see, taking pictures of something inside a jar poses challenges. I’m now thinking about finding or making a container for keeping insects or arachnids that also lends itself to photography.

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9 Responses to Awww… Baby Black Widow Spiders

  1. Sheldon, I did this same experiment way back in 1972 and photographed it on Kodachrome with a Pentax Spotmatic. Some of my black widow spiderlings emerged much larger than their siblings–which meant they ate some before opening the egg case. If you open the jar outside, they will climb to the rim, stick their abdomen in the air, emit a strand of silk and float away. It’s an amazing sight–until you realize those babies can grow up.

    • Forrest, do you still have the photos? I would be great if you could post some. I think I’ll forgo watching the babies float away. I think the local black widow population is already adequately healthy. Perhaps I’ll think of a way to do this under controlled conditions where I can round up all the critters again.

  2. Pingback: Baby Black Widow Update | Citizen Scientists League

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  4. Joe says:

    Cool, I found a tiny browish spider which to me strongly resembled a black widow. I thought how cool, I decided to purchase a fancy little aquarium with a lid (designed for bettas) from my local Pet’s Mart. I put down some aquarium gravel a few twigs and also a couple of live flies i caught flying around. So the jury is still out, I’m hoping it is in fact a black widow… Only time will tell. Even though it’s brown it still looks kinda cool. My question to you is: Are baby black widow spiderlings hatched brown or tan at first? Any information you may have on this subject is greatly apprecitated.

  5. Chad says:

    Maybe in my wife and son come back regularly to a place we observed a large female black widow spider in a bout with one of the big pinching bugs…it was interesting enough that we come check on it. well yesterday we found a large number of small brown spiders and the same web and I was wondering if in fact they were baby black widows.. and now that I seen the pics it confirmed it for us.. they are…

  6. Chad says:

    Me my wife and son Is how that paragraph should have started

  7. Robyn says:

    Hi Guys,

    I don’t know if you are able to help me, i would like to know how to get rid of black widows, i am so frightened as i have two small kids. I have cleaned & fumigated inside and outside my house, it helps for a few months then they are back, i am now desparate!!



  8. Robert pate says:

    ok though im not as educated as most of you are,im still really into bugs,but spiders are what i love the most.ok now to my comment.yesterday i noticed a lizard on a metal post…then a few hours i noticed what looked to be something wrapped up in webbing of some sort. well my son being a boy took a stick and knocked it down to my dismay.well now lets all fast foward to today, ok went out side and noticed that the thinkg my son knocked down is back up….lizard’s now gone and low and behold i see what to me looks like a black widow but instead of black it’s more tan but still hold the same markings of the female black widow red hour glass on the bottom and you guessed it it was feasting on my now dead lizard( and he was a cute little fellow) so now to my it possible for a full grown black widow to be any other color other than black (remember he’s tan and looks to be full grown) and second does the male have the hour glass figure on it and is the male also black? and third is it even possible for this spider to eat my used to be pet(jokeing)lizard? please any help is just that help to me.i find all insects to be cool in their own way and refuse to kill any of them nor do i let my wife or kids kill them.they have a job to do and i say let them do it cause they do it better than any human could ever do , all we know is poision and kill kill kill when thats really not the please email me and give me some sort of an answer and thanks for the really great site i have enjoyed it and bookmarked it for later use

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