This is what a Black Widow looks like when you find it under your sink, trap it in an egg carton, throw it out the front door, and step on it.

The black widow spider (Latrodectus mactans) is a spider notorious for its neurotoxic venom. It is a large widow spider found throughout the world and commonly associated with urban habitats or agricultural areas. While they aren't deadly to adult humans, their bite creates a nasty wound and they can be potentially lethal to small children (who may be prone to poking around where they live).

Around Davis you can find them in garages, woodpiles, under decks, and hiding in other dark places. If you ever open up a media box at Aggie Stadium, it would be unusual for you to not find a couple hiding.

The spiders themselves are often smaller than people think - some, with their legs outstretched have their "toes" touching the circumference of a quarter. Some have the pea-shaped abdomen, but they can have a smaller, more normal sized abdomen as well. They are often nocturnal, so all you may see of them is their web. To identify a black widow spider web, look for is a few anchor lines (could extend 2' away, but could be less as well), collecting into a soft-ball sized zone of disorganized webs. The spider itself is usually tucked into a crevice or small cranny near the web focus. Click here for a photo.

- Black widows also seem to like bicycles (either that or their presence is more easily noticed on bicycles). I have two bikes, one I use on a daily basis, and one I use every couple of months. I found that a black widow had moved into my daily bicycle's bike seat near the beginning of summer, killed it, and found another one a similar spot 2 months later! On my secondary bike, I found three at once!!! (one on the handle bar area, and one each by where the front and back tires meet the bike frame! Just look for the disorganized webs! Eek! - Rachel 8/21/08