Per L.A. County Department of Public Health, masks must be worn at all times indoors. View our COVID-19 Safety Guidelines for more information. 

The Black Widow's Tangled Rep

Awfully scary or awe-inspiring? Let's unspool the truths about the fascinating spider that induces shivers in even those captivated by other arachnids

Western Black Widow
The native western black widow (left; iNaturalist 37499326 by Kat Halsey) has become less common in urban areas

Often illusive, black widow spiders are some of L.A.’s most misunderstood animals. A few truths:

1. Black widows eat a wide variety of prey, from small insects to vertebrates such as lizards, snakes, and small mammals. 

2. They are venomous, but not aggressive and rarely bite unless they are pinched or squished.

3. Rule of thumb—safety first! Don't reach your hands into spaces that you can't see.

4. They like to hide away in crevices and holes during the day, but they will be more exposed at night, often hanging upside-down in their webs. While it is possible for the occasional widow spider to come indoors, they much prefer to be outside. 

 

Black Widow stock image

Black widows often hang upside-down in their webs.

Western Black Widow with egg sac

Female black widows make smooth egg sacs (left; iNaturalist 27072608 by Jeff Stauffer)

1 of 1

Black widows often hang upside-down in their webs.

Female black widows make smooth egg sacs (left; iNaturalist 27072608 by Jeff Stauffer)

In this video, Museum Educator Val Hatcher shares more scintillating secrets about this notorious L.A. neighbor: