Brown Widows Spin Thier Web On Campus

Amy Golden

Amy Golden

GROSSMONT COLLEGE–Approximately ten years ago an infestation of a new breed of arachnid invaded the SoCal area. It became widely known as the brown widow spider, grey widow or the geometric button spider.

The brown widow has been described as a hybrid between the black widow, its cousin, and the brown recluse spider, which is not generally found in San Diego County.  It is not certain where the brown widow came from, only that it has made the southern United States including San Diego County, its home.

Grossmont has done an excellent job at keeping their campus clean and maintained, lessening the threat of these spiders on campus.  Facilities maintenance personnel could not be reached for further comments on these creepy crawlers’ impeding effects on campus.

Photo By: Amy Golden
A Brown Widow Spider

Like the black widow, the brown widow spider has a venomous toxin.  According to the Center for Invasive Species Research at UC-Riverside’s website, the venom of the brown widow is just as potent as that of the black widow and other widow species, however, is less dangerous to humans because the amount of venom injected is less than that from the black widow.

Due to the brown widows’ size, the injected toxin into a human body will not affect the entire nervous system, but could affect the surrounding area around the bite.

Both the brown and black widow spiders have an hourglass marking on their abdomens.  brown widows are different from the black widows as the brown widows have an orange hourglass marking while the black widows has a red one.

Brown widows have darker brown to almost black banding on all of their eight legs.  The brown widow tends to darken its color to where it looks black, still maintaining its orange hourglass, making it look like a black widow.

Photo By: Amy Golden
Brown Widow Spider Eggs

Why Brown Widows change its color has not yet been determined.  There are alot of unanswered questions surrounding these creepers, just know that they are not necessarily friendly.

The brown widow’s egg sacs are easily recognizable and noticed.  Their sacs are an off-white/yellowish color with ‘spiky’ looking points protruding all over the round sac of spider eggs.  Egg sacs can be seen hanging almost anywhere on campus or at your home, including fences, trash cans, benches, patio furniture or in brush/gardens/flower beds.

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