The highly-poisonous black widow spider received its name from its black color and because female black widows eat the males after mating.
Female black widow spiders are shiny and black with two blood-colored triangles that make hourglasses on their abdomens. Male black widow spiders are black or gray with only two small red spots on their abdomens. Both males and females measure about one and a half inches in length - small enough to blend into their surroundings easily.
Black widow spiders have a very unusual mating and birthing system. The females eat their spouses after mating with them because the males are no longer of use to them. The female can lay up to 200 eggs in a cocoon-like sac that is attached to her webs. After the spider babies hatch, they stay in the cocoon for a while until they can live on their own.
The way black widow spiders catch their prey is amazing, too. The females hang upside down on webs to catch and hold their prey. Their venom is 15 times stronger than a rattlesnake's and assists them greatly in catching their prey. To hunt their prey, the spiders form a sticky web to capture them, then they inject their venom paralyzing their prey, usually insects other small animals. This method makes black widows fierce predators.
Black widow spiders are fascinating organisms with a variety of interesting traits that make them one of a kind.
[Source: National Geographic]