Black Widow Spider and Velvet Ant:
Red Warnings

By William T. Hathaway

Black Widow Spider and Velvet Ant

The Black Widow Spider (upper photo) is locally one of the most notorious spiders. Although the female venom is highly virulent, she will attempt to escape rather than attack if disturbed in her web. Webs are often found in hollow places under stones, in sheltered dirt embankments, trash dumps and buildings. Experts say that chances of dying from a black widow bite is the same as that of being struck by lightning. Only on rare occasions is the spider dangerous, and this is when it is pressed against someone's bare skin — the spider is forced into a defensive mode.

The Velvet Ant or Cow Killer (lower photo) is actually a wingless female wasp that can inflict a painful sting. Some of our older tobacco farmers will tell you that this velvet ant runs quickly over the ground, and those barefooted tobacco pullers had better beware! (See also “Wingless Wasp.”)


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