Brown Widow

Also known as Latrodectus geometricus, Gray Widow, or Brown Button Spiders, the brown widow is a lesser known relative of the famous black widow spider. Although the brown widow spider is suspected of having originated in Africa, it was discovered in South America. For this reason, its original habitat continues to be a source of confusion.

Regardless, the brown widows landed here in America via Southern California in the early 2000s. Since then, they’ve become a well-entrenched species throughout the US, and there is evidence to suggest they may be displacing the more venomous black widow. While most people think these spiders are just as deadly as their black widow cousins, their bites usually have much more moderate reactions. 

Brown widow spiders are prolific breeders that produce thousands of eggs in their lifetime. Female brown widows can create over 20 egg sacs in their lifetime, with each sac containing between 120 and 150 eggs. While these spiders do have similar features to the black widow, which can make it challenging to differentiate between them, they still have some noticeable differences.

Identifying Brown Widow Spiders

Brown widows can be challenging to conclusively identify because they can resemble immature western black widow spiders, and both the brown and black widow make irregular webs. However, other features can help you tell the difference between brown widows and other species, such as:

Color: Brown Widows are usually a mottled mixture of brown and tan with black and white markings on top, and have an orange hourglass marking under their abdomen. They can also be grey, dark brown or black, with the hourglass marking ranging from yellow or orange to red.

Size: Males are about 2 mm – 4 mm (0.078 in – 0.157in) in length, while females are 7mm – 10 mm (0.275 in – 0.393).

Bodily Features: Since nearly all of brown widow’s features are similar to those of the black widow, the abdomen is the primary part of the spider used for identification. Only the brown widow will have the white and black pattern on top of their abdomen. Something you can also use to identify them is not a bodily feature at all: the egg sac. Brown widow egg sacs resemble sandspurs, and are described as “spikey” or “tufted”. This is unique to the brown widow since most spider egg sacs are round or teardrop shaped.

Habitat:  Brown Widows love living in secluded spaces where they’re not disturbed. These include woody vegetation around homes, empty buckets, mailboxes, storage closets, under eaves, or in attics and garages.

Diet: Like most other spiders, brown widows feed on small insects such as flies, mosquitos, and moths by trapping the insects in their webs.

Are Brown Widows Dangerous?

Brown Widows are not aggressive and will usually drop to the ground, curl into a ball and escape when confronted, but they can still inflict painful bites if pressed against the skin. Male brown widows do not bite, and the females either cannot inject or do not have enough venom to cause any significant harm to humans. This means that symptoms such as redness, pain, and any discomfort that you may feel are usually the result of the bite itself and not the venom.   

How to Prevent and Control Brown Widow Spiders

The best way to manage and prevent brown widow Infestation is to reduce clutter, get rid of woodpiles and leaf litter, prune branches and shrubs near the house, and seal any cracks in the walls. Keeping less used areas of your home, such as garages and basements, clean and dusted regularly will help as well. If you find yourself infested with brown widows, or just want some extra help preventing them, you’ll need to seek the services of a professional pest control company. Give Domain a call today and we’ll quote you on our seasonal protection plans that will help you get rid of brown widows for good!

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