Black Widows: the most boring pet ever?

I didn’t expect it, but wow, black widows are incredibly lazy. They find a corner and park their large butts there and don’t move at all, all day long. I know they wander about at night stringing silk all over the place, but otherwise, they’re like sulking teenagers who don’t wanna do nothin’ whenever you look at them. Boring!

Or are they?

I think maybe I haven’t been feeding them right. Yesterday, I caught a small grasshopper in our garden, and I tossed it into the black widow container. It bounced off a couple of strands of silk, and the effect was electric: the widow leapt out of her corner and stood poised in the center, suspended on its web, looking extraordinarily alert. She wasn’t looking directly at the hopper, but was delicately touching multiple lines — you could tell she was poised to sense any motion in her trap.

The moment was tense and dramatic.

The hopper moved. The widow instantly charged at it, tried to use her hind legs to tangle it up, and failed, so she retreated back to her central lookout. The hopper was terrified, and remained motionless for at least 5 minutes, while the spider was also motionless, but alert.

Finally, the hopper took a small step, and the widow surged forward and snared it with more silk. The hopper was kicking frantically, trying to leap away, but was hampered by the strong sticky silk, and every leap tangled it further in all that silk. So much silk. Finally, the black widow gave it one little kiss, and the hopper was almost instantly dead. Then she dragged her prey up to her calm quiet corner and ate.

I’ve been feeding her mealworms all this time. Maybe it’s not the spider that’s boring, but the food I’ve been giving her. The next feeding day is Tuesday, I think I’m going to have to buy a box of crickets.


  1. robro says

    A riveting story of the prelude, the hunt, the kill, the feast…well, the feast could stand a bit more drama perhaps but it is the denouement.

  2. Artor says

    What kind of venom does a black widow use? Did it actually kill it’s prey immediately, or did it just stun it, so it could enjoy being digested and sucked dry while still conscious?

  3. lochaber says

    Used to see a lot of Black Widows when I lived in the Mojave.

    Remember their silk seemed a bit stronger than most spider webs, it was noticeable when I tripped into one wandering around.

    No clue what they typically ate, not a lot of insects around that I noticed. Moths maybe? I also remember solpugids hanging out on walls at night near lights, catching and eating moths. Those were pretty interesting, much more active than most spiders, and the way they caught and killed prey was pretty intimidating…

  4. John Morales says

    All the animals I’ve ever known prefer yummy food to regular food.

    (That includes human animals)

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