White Widow Spider: Identification, Facts, & Pictures

Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on twitter
Share on email
White widow spider

The White Widow Spider, or Latrodectus pallidus, is a very unique member of the Latrodectus genus which is comprised of widow spiders.

It differs from other members of the genus through its unique coloration, smaller size, and less harmful bite.

This spider is not very common, but its relation to the famous Black Widow Spider has caused quite a few people to be interested about it and look into acquiring one.

At A Glance

Scientific Name Latrodectus pallidus
Distribution Southwest Asia, Russia, and the Middle East
Habitat Deserts and grasslands
Size 1/2″ to 1″
Bite Painful and sometimes threatening
Lifespan 1-2 years

White Widow Spider Appearance

This species of spider is likely native to Eurasia but was introduced to the United States several hundred years ago. Now, this spider is found in virtually all 50 states in addition to Europe, Russia, and New Zealand.

The carapace and legs of this species are light brown with a hint of yellow, but they can sometimes be more lightly-colored. Their legs have dark brown markings around all joints and at the tips.

As for the abdomen, it’s very bulbous and near pure-white. The patterns on the abdomen vary, ranging from a few tiny brown dots to multiple dots with surrounding light brown coloring.

Aside from the unique coloration, the actual physical characteristics of the White Widow Spider are very similar to most other species within the genus.

White widow spider
White Widow Spider webbing

White Widow Spider Habitat

This spider lives in areas where the populations of many other spiders are much higher. Thus, this is considered a decently rare species that many people don’t get the possibility to observe or keep for themselves.

The White Widow Spider is primarily found in the steppes of Russia, Kazakhstan, and assorted Southwest Asian countries. Specifically, they make their home in flat grasslands with trees only by rivers.

They’re also present in the desert regions of the Middle East, showing that this is an adaptable spider that’s able to withstand a variety of different environmental conditions.

In the wild, these spiders build webs in low traffic areas with the hope of catching a passing insect, and they do this surprisingly well.

In fact, they’re known to construct fairly complex webs that act as snares. Because of the effectiveness of this trap, they don’t often roam around unless looking for a mate.

White widow spider
White Widow Spider in a desert

White Widow Spider Bite & Venom

While this spider does share a genus with the dreaded Black Widow, its bite is way less significant. A White Widow spider does contain venom and is considered “medically significant”, but it’s frequently doesn’t have many effects beyond being very painful.

However, this bite can be more harmful if its inflicted on someone that’s either allergic to it or they’re sick/young. Healthy adults shouldn’t have much to fear besides the pain.

If you come across one of these spiders, leave it alone. They will very rarely be found in an area with significant human traffic, so it’s best to leave them to their own devices.

White widow spider
Light-colored White Widow Spider

White Widow Spider Eggs & Mating

This is a species of spider in which the males exert a lot of effort just to successfully mate a single time. Once a male matures, they spend most of their time searching for a female to mate with — and a lot of the time they’re unsuccessful!

In fact, in a study carried out in 2006, it was found that just 20% of males successfully mated with a female. On the other end of the spectrum, many females were found to have mated with several males.

That’s not the worst of it for male White Widows, though. Once they’re done mating, males frequently lose the tip of their copulatory organs inside of the female. On some occasions, females kill and eat the smaller males.

Once a a female mates, they lay their egg sac and guard it by themselves.

Random White Widow Spider Facts

  • It’s rare to find males living in webs once they reach maturity, as they’re constantly on the hunt for a mate.
  • Since mating competition is so high, aggressive males come out on top, causing males to become more aggressive over time.
  • Around humans, this spider is reported to be shy.

Zach David
Zach David
Zach is a life-long pet owner and enthusiast. He was born into a family with a dog named Murphy, and since then has owned several other dogs, tarantulas, mice, ferrets, fish, geckos, and a cat. This experience has given him the knowledge necessary to help others become excellent pet owners.