Northern Black Widow
This cousin of the southern black widow is similar in color and size, but instead of an hourglass, the red on its body shows as splotches or dots. Sometimes the marks will look like an hourglass split in the middle, or an incomplete hourglass.
Northern widow egg sacs are pear shaped and smooth. They can contain up to 200 eggs, less than the sacs of their southern counterpart.
“There are a lot of myths and misinformation about the brown recluse spider,” Said Benson. “It is exceedingly rare in South Carolina.”
The southern house spider, a harmless common spider that shares many of the brown recluse’s physical characteristics, is often confused with its venomous counterpart.
Brown recluse spiders can be identified by their light brown to yellow color, their relatively small bodies, and their very long legs. The key way to identify them, though, is that brown recluses have six eyes, not eight.
Unlike widows, the brown recluse produces egg masses instead of egg sacs. They are flat on the bottom and curved on top. Compared to the hundreds of spiderlings in a widow’s egg sac, the egg mass of a brown recluse contains roughly 40.
This variation of widow first made its appearance in the palmetto state in the late 90s.
“It’s actually quite a pretty spider if you look at it,” said Benson.
Brown widow males are 1/3 the size of females, making them the smallest of all widow males in the Lowcountry.
A brown widow’s egg sacs are similar in color to those of the southern and northern widows, but they are covered in spikes, which is a stark contrast to the smooth egg sacs of their relatives.
Southern Black Widow
This is the classic shiny shape with the red hourglass on it” said Benson.
Female southern black widows exhibit the well-known hourglass shape while males do not, instead having red spots on the top or bottom of their abdomen.
Southern widow egg sacs are beige in color and on average slightly smaller in diameter than a dime. These sacs usually contain over 200 eggs and the spiderlings that hatch from them are initially without any of the distinct markings associated with widows.