Black Widow Masquerade


Living for well over a year in a house dominated by an infestation of Black Widow spiders is stressful. Occasional laundry room encounters, replaced over time by flagrant ambush intent, a malicious massing of troops oblivious to boundaries or my personal space. Buoyed by apparent inaction – basement widows became kitchen, bathroom and bedroom sentries. No sooner would I find one, another was lost.

Apparently I wasn’t alone. My post “Seven Black Widow Spiders” ranks as third most read of nearly 850 posts. A lot of Vancouver residents were under siege.

Enter Catherine Scott, a student of Entomology at Simon Fraser University. Long story short – Catherine looked at photos of my spiders, concluding with enough certainty to make my day – it was all a masquerade. My cheeky Arachnid invaders are False Black Widows, AKA Steatoda Grossa, not Latrodectus Hesperus, the nightmare widows I feared.

Four spots on abdomen - Steatoda grossa

Steatoda Grossa – False Black Widow

http://bugguide.net/node/view/6932/bgimage

Less venomous, common in B.C.’s Lower Mainland, and easily masquerading as their ominous cousins if seen under dim light. Dark light makes them appear black, in reality their bulk is a brownish purple up close and personal under favourable lighting. The abdomen of False Widows is more oblong in shape than rounded bellies of true Black Widows.

Thank you Catherine, I slept much better last night.