Why the Male Black Widow is a Real Home Wrecker | Deep Look
Articles Blog

Why the Male Black Widow is a Real Home Wrecker | Deep Look

October 21, 2019


This episode of Deep Look is brought to you
by Curiosity Stream. You know what people say about her. She’s the black widow. She mates, and then she kills, right? Here comes her victim now. He’s smaller, less venomous. Kinda cute. Sweet little guy. But before he gets eaten alive…Let’s talk
about this poor sucker for a minute. And how much of a “victim” he really is. This western black widow lives in California. She works pretty hard to make a living. Unlike many spiders that build a new web each
night, she toils continuously on the same one her whole life. This web may look messy, but don’t be fooled. It’s laid out on a grid of draglines that
she attaches to the ground. It’s a multi-story sticky trap that stands
up to some pretty tough game. When she bites, the venom takes hold, bringing
a slow paralysis, As this lethal knitter wraps, and wraps, and
wraps. But that’s not the only thing hanging around
the web…There’s this guy. Adult male widow spiders don’t build webs
of their own. He moves right into hers. Basically, he’s a squatter. He’s staking his claim to her, because he
knows every sticky thread of the web is covered in her pheromones. And that spreads her mating scent far and
wide, potentially attracting a nice selection of other males for her to choose from. Which is not on his agenda. So, he trashes the place. He goes around snipping strands of her web,
undoing all her hard work. He winds up the loose threads in his own silk,
masking her scent from other males in the area. It’s called web reduction. When he finally tries to mate with her — see
that vibrating? That’s him signaling his interest —
He wraps her limbs in his own delicate silk. It probably serves to surround her in his
pheromones. Scientists call it the bridal veil. It seems subdues her. Makes her more approachable. When they mate, he leaves behind a piece of
this curlicue-shaped organ, called an embolus, in her body. It blocks other males from fathering her offspring
later. So let’s see… Lazy. Rude. Messy. Controlling. Ok. Now let’s watch him get eaten. Actually, in most widow spider species, and
there are 31, the males don’t get eaten. They escape scott free. The Australian redback is one of only two
where cannibalism almost always occurs when they mate. He literally somersaults himself towards her
mouth so she can take the first bite, which keeps her…interested. They’ll mate a few times like this before
he finally dies. Scientists describe it as a self-sacrifice. And she’ll take her time, devouring his
insides later. Least he can do, right? This episode is brought to you by Curiosity
Stream, a subscription streaming service that offers documentaries and nonfiction titles
from some of the world’s best filmmakers, including exclusive originals. Want to learn more about spiders’ habitats? Curiosity Stream’s original short film “Big
World Small Garden” captures the hectic and complex natural world of a London backyard. To get unlimited access and your first two
months free, sign up at CuriosityStream.com/deeplook, and use the promo code Deeplook during the
signup process. So what if a black widow spider bit you? Well, it probably wouldn’t kill you…in
fact, we couldn’t find a documented case of human death from a black widow spider. But it’s definitely no joke. So look, but don’t touch her. Another poison myth? How bout that Halloween candy that was supposed
to kill you? Watch this episode of the Origin of Everything
from PBS Digital Studios to find out the answer to that and other everyday mysteries. And thanks for watching Deep Look!

Only registered users can comment.

  1. Hi this just reminded me that I live in California, and as much as these are beautiful creatures, they’re poisonous, and I’m scared now

  2. It’s kinda funny how this lady is trying to tell us what a terrible spider this guy is when it’s literally still just a spider.

  3. Does anyone else find themselves looking around the room anytime they watch a video about spiders? Especially the venomous ones 😳

    Just a safety precaution, lol

    Last thing I want is to watch a video about a Black Widow and then look up and see one inching her way down a web heading toward my face to eat it clean off.

    I get the shivers anytime I watch a spider video.

  4. The parable of those who seek protectors from other than God is that of a spider who builds a house; but indeed, the weakest of houses is the spider's house — if they but knew.

    29/41

  5. Spooder : builds a web ahh finally done with my web. took alot of tiiimeee-

    Me : oMG A SPODER starts screaming, flinching, crying, shaking DIE DIE PMGENABAJSJSBSJSN

    spooder : man what the fvuck? what did i do to u

  6. Now did they start doing this before or after they realized they get eaten after. Because if they know their with a psychopath who’s gonna eat them I’d be doing all I can to distract them. They also might destroy the web to tire the female out so it can’t catch them.

  7. At least he is nice enough to feed her when he like literary forced her to mate or did he maybe he didn't and I'm just confused

  8. Wow!….He's so controlling, haha…..No wonder she annihilates him…..Wow, I didn't know so few species of widows actually do that….Interesting….Must be some benefit somewhere to us all thinking they all do it….lol….

  9. i'll have you know that competing with hundreds of other males – replacing 100% of the entire web she spent building her entire life with my own web and pheromones and then tying her up when she is two or 3 times my size is far from laziness – so take that femtard – i will now sacrifice myself for the greater good

  10. A wonderful example of toxic relationship
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    Or we should stop projecting our social life on animals' behavior

  11. Wow, this woman takes this way too seriously…. "My ex Kevin…I mean, the make spider, trashed my…i mean her…web…"

  12. I like how the female just chills in the corner of the web. Must be like watching a crackhead running around your house, cleaning it up without being asked.

  13. The premise of this video reminds me of an old joke I read in a book:
    Why do black widow spiders eat their own mates?
    To stop the snoring before it starts.

  14. What I want to know is are the males venomous like females are because they are way harder to spot. I got bit by a female one once when I was eight and it is definitely an experience I will never forget. No one taught me not to play on the woodpile.

  15. Wroooong. I live in northern Indiana and brown recluse are everywhere. They love living in wood piles. Several people get bit by these nasty things and have to have the area bit treated medically due to bad tissue infection and dissolving. They can cause a nasty looking wound that takes forever to heal and seal up.

  16. I don’t know why everyone is so pressed but I actually found this pretty cool. I didn’t know this information previously.

  17. Whenever I see these in my backyard, I either spray it with the jet setting on my hose, or flame thrower it with a lighter and bug spray.

  18. Are man spiders scientifically not able to make houses? How does he eat? She would not eat him if he did not destroyed her house. The purpose of the house is to gain food. The need for safety/security is essential, especially when you are pregnant.

  19. So many men taking the narrator's comments about a male spider seriously. It's like.. humor, guys. Relating primal spider behavior to real human relationships is funny.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *