Happy Halloween!

By Phil Plait | October 31, 2010 7:19 am

Trick or treat!

Happy Halloween, everyone! I almost put up a big scary picture here — my brother-in-law Chris took one that is honestly really creepy… but decided it might freak a few people out, so I put it in after the jump. If you’re an arachnophobe, I wouldn’t suggest clicking the "Read the rest of this entry" link…



That little lady is a Black Widow spider Chris spotted making a meal of a honeybee on his patio behind the house. He spotted the bee in trouble on the web and then the spider ran out from the siding, did her business, and ran back in.

So. Sweet dreams, me droogs. Why, I’m sure that itch on your leg as you lie under the covers is nothing, nothing at all.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Pretty pictures

Comments (37)

  1. Sir Craig

    Nice pic! And Happy Halloween to one and all as well!

  2. Kevin

    I actually got a laugh out of this, even though I hate spiders. Reason is I just saw a video with Jim Parsons of TBBT about “what is an arachnid?’ for Sesame Street.

    “Aughh! Spider!”


  3. Revyloution

    I wonder if honey bees taste sweeter? Or if the Black Widow can get diabetes if she eats too many of them.

    I just see two spiders talking “Did you know that honey bees are the only food that doesn’t have an expiration date?”

  4. Trucker Doug

    The garage at our old apartment was Black Widow central. One female had an abdomen a full 8mm across. So glad to be out of that place. I mostly tolerate spiders well, but Widows are the exception.

  5. Dean

    I hate Black Widows with a passion as well. Especially when they get inside the house, and especially now I have a 2 year old.

  6. Anyone remember The Fly (original, not remake)? The scene with the fly screaming for help while the spider closed in left me traumatized me for years afterward.

  7. Trebuchet

    “He spotted the bee in trouble on the web…”

    Am I the only one who’s first thought was that he saw it on the internet?

    Great pic though!

  8. Michelle

    I…. Shouldn’t have looked. *shudders*

    (Extra fun of being in Quebec: NO BITEY SPIDERS. Well, I heard there’s ONE type but I never seen it and neither has anyone else. Most people that get bitten by it think that they got a skin rash overnight.)

  9. Grand Lunar

    If this was a brown recluse, THEN I’d be scared.

  10. Gary Ansorge

    I wonder how big these critters might grow in free fall? I can just see the headlines now, “Giant black widow spider attacks space colony workers. News at 11.”

    Great pic. Now all he needs is an equivalent photo of the brown recluse(I’ve never seen one, even though they’re supposed to be quite common here in Georgia.)

    Gary 7

  11. Douglas Troy

    Ok, what we need is an insect Death Match.

    Phil’s Skepticism Mantis (see what I did there?) verse Chris’ Black Widow.

  12. Looks like Madame Widow is doing a happy killer’s jig on the back of that bee.

  13. peter

    I love spiders – the bigger, the better.

    We have a lot of really beautiful salticidae around – up to an inch.
    Our house is spider friendly – they hide behind the baseboard, or winter in the big cactus plant.
    No spiders squashed here.

    I keep a few tarantulas – a nandhu that has almost 8″ leg span is the biggest at present.

  14. Chris Winter

    I heard that among the signs at The Rally to Restore Sanity was one that read, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself — and spiders.”

  15. She’s beautiful! Look at that glossy luster!

  16. Robin of Loxley

    I’m glad I am not the only person who values the insect trapping skills of these beautiful spiders. I believe SC is the Black Widow capital of the world and they have free rein in my garden.

    I was about 2 years old when I learned first hand what their bite feels like but that didn’t deter my fascination. The only ill effect I recall was the abdominal cramping and I wonder how this older body would fare these 64 years later.

  17. peter

    “I learned first hand what their bite feels like”

    I used to frequently have my tarantulas walk on me or hold them in the hollow of my hand while working on the computer.

    Unfortunately- I got more allergic to the urticating hairs, and one day one gave me a warning: while holding her she punched her chelicerae into my hand , drawing a little blood but not injecting any poison – a try bite.
    Felt funny and not really painful, but I took heed. After all – they are still wild animals, and rather like to left alone.

  18. DrFlimmer

    In Germany is (more or less official) “Reformationstag” today, when the Protestants remember Martin Luther and his 90 theses on the church door. However, that day is almost forgotten and replaced by the scary thing. That comes from a Roman-Catholic….

    happy Halloween to all in the new world….

  19. Floyd

    At our old house, we had way too many black widows. If they were found, they were killed.
    On the other hand wolf spiders killed cockroaches, and we never bothered them.

  20. matt

    Speaking of legs, that poor spider is missing one on her left hand side. I only counted 7, and then saw the stump. Times are rough.

  21. What a gorgeous creature. Reminds me of a gal I used to date.

  22. Jim Ortner

    I’ve got a black widow web on our cactus out in the front yard. Right next to the sidewalk with a light on it for tonight.


  23. Davros

    Hmm a cute little redback (that is the Australian version)
    one of the least deadly spiders from around here

  24. Our Australian Latrodectus hasselti (Redback Spider) is so close in appearance to the Black Widow (Latrodectus mactans) that the spider in the photo above looked almost the same as one I took here in Perth last week – sans bee. You’d hardly believe they are not the same species. I wonder if they can be cross-bred to produce a sterile ‘mule’ spider…

  25. Paul

    I Dont like Black Widows much. One bit my leg, and put me down, for a month. I now, have a new respect for them, to say the least.

  26. Caleb


  27. katwagner

    My husband used to bring black widows home to us in his lunch box (in a baggie after he ate his sandwich) when he was blowing out people’s sprinkler systems. The hugest one I ever saw I threw in the freezer to slow it down – its body was as big as my thumbnail. We saved it in a little bottle of alcohol til all the legs fell off. Our son’s favorite growing up – a spider costume I sewed for him. It lasted like 4 years!

  28. idlemind

    After reading this book excerpt about a scientist who intentionally was bitten and nearly died as a result, I’ve got a lot more respect for these spiders. It’s kind of along the lines of “you don’t die, but at times you’ll wish you did.” People actually commit suicide to escape the pain.

  29. Chip

    Reminds me, Its been a long time since I saw the movie “Eight Legged Freaks!”
    (Actually a pretty fun film.)

  30. Every time Phil posts a pic from his brother-in-law, I feel challenged. You can skip this comment if you want to avoid pettiness ūüėČ

    I put this inset pic together a while back for a blog post, but decided I already had too many about spiders anyway. Shown here is a female and male Southern Black Widow, pretty close to scale (I mean, between the two, not life size.) I actually found them not five feet apart on the side of my duplex. They are pretty common here in NC, too.


    If you look close, you can see the markings on the female’s back (away from you) that denote the Southern variant, and the little beads of apparently yucky-tasting web fluid that she emitted when I nudged her into the light, one of their other defenses.

    The male does indeed have only six legs – they may have already encountered one another at this point. She was removed to a location far from the house, but the male allowed to stay, since they’re harmless to people.

    But my creepiest spider pic was used for a blog post – you have been warned.

  31. Sorry, double-post deleted

  32. Nigel Depledge

    Hnmm, can’t view the pic from work.

    Still, we had a Hallowe’en washout – rain all evening and no trick-or-treaters (Yay! All the more chocolate for me!).

    Is it just on my street, or is it everywhere that kids are coming around up to 4 days before Hallowe’en instead of on Hallowe’en itself?

  33. Michael Swanson

    I’m hugely, ridiculously, even-interferes-with-my-daily-life arachnophobic. But did I click on the link anyway?

    Yes. Apparently I’m also stupid.

    I kinda wanna puke now.

  34. Keith Bowden

    “Ahhh! There’s a spider in the bath! He ate my rubber duck!”
    “Penfold… shush.”

    “We’re all humanary stew if we don’t pledge allegiance to… the black widow!”
    [cue guitar riff…]

  35. Artor

    I’ve never seen a black widow outdoors before. I always encounter them in dry crawlspaces and such. They’re pretty timid; I’ve gone through places thick with them, and I just put on long sleeves and used a broomstick to carve a path through the webs. They all scurried away until I was gone, and I’ve never been bitten.


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