Black Widow Blues
Black widows are one of those spiders you want to steer clear from. That little red hourglass on their body is a bright red warning light advising you to stay the hell away. Trust me, you don’t want to get bitten by one of these deadly arachnids. It hurts…a lot. You won’t die, but you might want to.
The major toxins in a black widow’s venom that cause the excruciating pain are called latrotoxins. The toxins actually hijack your nervous system and turn it against you. What is known as an alpha-latrotoxin inserts itself into the membrane of the pre-synaptic regions of your neurons, causing all of the neuron’s vesicles to dump their neurotransmitters. That dumping stimulates motor endplates, making your muscles cramp up. This is what causes the extreme pain.
So, why do these tiny creatures pack such a punch? Scientists think it has to do with the evolution of their diet. The venom allows the spider to catch larger prey (small mammals and reptiles) as well as smaller more typical prey…as well as their mates. Thankfully for humans, black widows aren’t very aggressive, so you really have to “bug” it for it to react strongly enough that it bites you. So, just watch those dark corners and you should be alright for the most part.
Have you ever seen a black widow in your home? Have you ever been bitten by one?