Male Black Widow: Facts, Pictures and Differences with Females

Male Black Widow spiders are smaller than female Black Widow spiders. They live shorter lives and they look completely different from their male counterparts.

Most people associate Black Widow with a black body with red hourglass markings on the underside of the abdomen. But this popular image of the spider only refers to the female.

While we don’t know as much about the male Black Widow, we now have a better understanding of how the male lives. First of all, the male has a shorter life. The male Black Widow is constantly taking risks and competing with other males for a chance to mate with a female.

What Do Male Black Widows Look Like

The male Black Widow can be black or brown. There’s no hourglass marking on the abdomen of the male Black Widow. Instead, these males might have a series of red dots on the lower abdomen. The male spider is also about half the size of a 1.5 in female Black Widow (with legs spread out).

Male southern black widow spider

Male Black Widow vs Female: 8 Key Differences

The differences between the male and the female Black Widow spiders are considerable. There’s a lot of research into these differences and we’re just starting to learn what separates them thoroughly.

1. Lifespan

The lifespan of the male and female Black Widow spiders is completely different. Females take longer to mature but they also live longer.

A female Black Widow spider lives for up to a year and a half. Male Black Widow spiders live up to 5 months.

A female Black Widow spider takes up to 4 months to mature. This can be quicker depending on prey availability. But even the quickest-maturing female spiders don’t reach adulthood sooner than 2 months.

Male spiders mature at 70 days. They don’t need to grow as much and they reach adulthood sooner. The male spider lives a maximum of 2 months after this stage when it reaches adulthood. In total, the male spider lives up to 4 months.

2. Mature Age

The maturing age of the female is longer. Male spiders reach a mature age sooner, even without as much available prey as females. Most females living in habitats with little prey will have a delayed maturing age.

This delayed maturing age is sometimes exemplified the best later on during the mating process when males sometimes mate with immature females.

3. Size

Male vs female black widow in size

The male Black Widow is considerably smaller than the female Black Widow. This spider is normally associated with a 0.5 inches body size and 1.5 inches full size with legs spread out. However, this is the size of the female spider.

Male Black Widow spiders measure around 0.7 inches with legs spread out. They are around half the size of the female spider.

4. Color & Markings

The most visible differences between the female and the male are in colors and body markings. While the male Black Widow can also be black, these are rare cases, and mostly tied to young adults. The male Black Widow spider is mostly brown.

The famous red markings are different on the male spider. These are sometimes found in the shape of red dots forming a vertical line along the body. But many male Black Widow spiders don’t have any dots. When the male spider doesn’t have red dots on the body it normally has dark brown spots instead.

The female Black Widow is a black spider. Its body and its legs are black. There’s a red hourglass marking on the body of the female. The hourglass is separated into triangles on different species of Black Widow.

Male black widow vs female
Male black widow vs female

5. Abdomen

The abdomen of the female Black Widow has a shiny black color. This is where the red hourglass marking is located. The hourglass figure is sometimes split depending on the species of the spider. The split normally creates two red triangles.

The abdomen of the male Black Widow is where you can sometimes find multiple red and white stripes. However, these are normally more difficult to see in real life as the male has a shorter lifespan.

6. Legs

The legs of the Black Widow spider help it feel vibrations in the spider web. These spiders also use their legs as smell receptors.

However, the legs of the female are different from the legs of the male. Female Black Widow legs are black and shorter about the body. Male legs are longer compared to the body size and normally of brown color.

7. Bite

The bite of the female Black Widow is to be feared. While not all Black Widows can kill humans, some species’ venom is truly dangerous. By comparison, male Black Widow spiders don’t bite. This is also one of the reasons males are bitten and killed by the females after mating.

8. Breeding

The male seeks out the female for breeding. Pheromones are detected by the male from tens of feet away.

Females are known for laying hundreds of eggs. It’s estimated the female Black Spider can lay up to 750 eggs over the summer months.

When does a male start to find a mate?

The males start to find a mate as soon as they reach adulthood. This is at the 70-day mark in their lifespan. Males only have a couple of months to find a mate as they live short lives.

Mating season

The mating season begins in late spring. The female lives through multiple mating seasons. It’s estimated the female Black Widow lays at least 200 eggs at a time.

Mating process

The mating process involves a rare cannibalistic nature in Black Widows. The cases where the female eats the male is rare (believed to be up to 2% of the cases). It was first believed the male was eaten by the female as studies were made in labs.

In real life, the male manages to escape the hungry female after mating. It’s also believed the male Black Widow spider can tell when the female is hungry by analyzing pheromones. The female lays the eggs in a sack during the mating process. Spiderlings emerge and they remain in the sack until the first molt.

Mating in black widows

What To Do When You Are Bitten By a Male Black Widow

Black Widow bites might be rare, but they can be severe and require medication. Here’s how to deal with them.

Symptoms

The first reactions are seen around 2 hours after the bite. Pain at the area of the bite, stomach cramps, and even back pain or headaches are common. Local paralysis has also been reported in extreme cases.

Treatment

Antihistamines are prescribed for the painful area of the bite. Black Widow antivenom is also used in the

The US in the more severe cases. This uses purified antibodies drawn from the blood of horses. The antivenom injection helps the body neutralize the chemicals of the Black Widow venom.

Prevention

It’s best to avoid all areas of the house or garden where you see a Black Widow. These spiders are normally seen during the summer. It’s best to stay clear of these areas and let exterminators deal with them.

Summary

While the female Black Widow is instantly recognizable, the male Black Widow is rarely seen or rarely correctly identified.

Males are smaller and brown and they have a short lifespan. This means most people truly come in contact with the female Black Widow. Those who see the female should exercise caution as the bite is very dangerous requiring medical care. The male Black Widow doesn’t bite.

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