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Inicio  / Lactrodectus  /  Anatomy of Latrodectus  /  Nota Completa
 
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Anatomy of Lactrodectus

 
 

Introduction

The Black Widow spider, also known as the capulina or capulincillo spider in Spanish is one of the most widely distributed spiders in Mexico. It even lives at elevations of 3500 meters above sea level.

 

The Black Widow is also distributed worldwide with over 30 reported species. Two of these species live inMexico.

In pre-hispanic times the indigenous peoples knew this species well as its bite could prove to be fatal They called it tzintlatlauhqui or chintatlahua, meaning “the one with a red bum “.

Its scientific name derives from the Greek Latro or Lathro meaning: hidden, secret, latent; anddectus: biter.

 

Diet: The Black Widow’s diet consists primarily of insects, but does also include other arthropods.

"The prey lands in the Black Widow’s web where it skillfully wraps it up with the help of its tarsal combs. Afterwards, the Widow kills its prey by injecting it with venom using its chelicerae. Once the prey has been immobilized, the Black Widow begins the external digestion process by chewing and dropping digestive enzymes onto the prey. Next, the spider sucks out the nutritional contents and leaves the prey’s empty exoskeleton hanging in the web.
 

Anatomy: The Black Widow’s diet consists primarily of insects, but does also include other arthropods.

"The prey lands in the Black Widow’s web where it skillfully wraps it up with the help of its tarsal combs. Afterwards, the Widow kills its prey by injecting it with venom using its chelicerae. Once the prey has been immobilized, the Black Widow begins the external digestion process by chewing and dropping digestive enzymes onto the prey. Next, the spider sucks out the nutritional contents and leaves the prey’s empty exoskeleton hanging in the web.

The chelicerae are comprised of two parts, the base and the fang. The fang portion ends in a very hard segment with an opening at the tip through which venom travels via the ducts connected to the venom glands. On the sides of the chelicerae are a pair of pedipalps or tactile organs which look like small feet in females. In males however, they are modified to serve an additional reproductive function whereby they transport and inject semen into the female.

"The prey lands in the Black Widow’s web where it skillfully wraps it up with the help of its tarsal combs. Afterwards, the Widow kills its prey by injecting it with venom using its chelicerae. Once the prey has been immobilized, the Black Widow begins the external digestion process by chewing and dropping digestive enzymes onto the prey. Next, the spider sucks out the nutritional contents and leaves the prey’s empty exoskeleton hanging in the web.

In Black Widows, the differences between males and females is so marked that they could almost appear to be different species.

In females, the abdomen is almost spherical or globular and shiny black in color with a bright red hourglass marking on the underside. In males, the abdomen is elongated and has red and white stripes on top as well as the red hourglass figure on the underside.

The female is much larger than the male. Her abdomen measures between 8 to 10 mm in diameter with a total diameter or 30 to 40 mm. The much smaller abdomen of the male measures between 3 to 4 mm and is elongated, with a total diameter of 10 to 20 mm. The female can weigh up to 1 g while males on average weigh about 2 g.

 

Growth: Spiders grow by molting their exoskeleton. The remains of the exoskeleton is called the exuvia and the process of molting is called ecdysis.

Once a spiderling is born, it reaches adulthood in about 6 months. Females undergo between 6 to 8 molts and males undergo between 4 to 6. Female spiders live for about 1.5 years and males live for about 7 or 8 months.

       
 

Behavior and Habitat : The Black Widow spider belongs to the Theridiidae family. Spiders in this family characteristically produce irregular webs and hang mouth down. The Black Widow’s web is shiny and very resistant.


Latrodectus geometricus
 

Like most arachnids, Black Widows are nocturnal. They are annual cycle spiders meaning they complete their life cycle in a year, though they can live for a year and half in the case of females. Black Widows are sedentary; once they have found a suitable location to spin a web, they will remain there their entire lives.
Black Widows prefer dry, cold climates although they can be found in all the country’s climates. They live beneath rocks and fallen trees and tend to seek dark, cool places. They are well adapted to live alongside humans. In rural regions, they are abundant in agricultural crops where they find a good supply of food. Black Widows have also adapted to urban environments and can be found on wastelands of large cities, abandoned construction sites, and in the backyards and gardens of homes, where they find a variety of suitable spots to settle down in. Their adaptive success is due to their excellent hunting skills, their web, the potency of their venom and their prolificacy.
Black Widows are timid creatures and will flee from humans or larger animals. If its web is destroyed, the Black Widow will tuck in its legs and fall to the ground. When up against animals its own size or smaller, the Black Widow is aggressive and territorial and will often cannibalize other spiders. They are only social during the mating season. Mothers will fiercely protect their eggs sacs.
 

Reproduction: Sexual maturity is reached after 180 days or after the seventh molt for females and the sixth molt for males.

Mating season occurs in spring during which time males wander around in search of females. After mating, the female will start to lay egg sacs for about 2 months. She can produce between 6 to 7 egg sacs per season each containing on average 450 spiderlings.

On average, incubation lasts for 22 days. Out of the total number of offspring produced, only about 5% survive. After the mating season, the males that manage to survive the female’s post-copulation attack, quickly die.

 
 
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