A new research paper co-authored by Richard Vetter, professor of urban entomology at UC Riverside, confirms a long-feared invasion of brown widow spiders in SoCal.
The spiders are indeed coming from down south. They like to work in your yard. And yes, they bite:
"It hurts and there's burning pain," Vetter tells us, "and that's it."
That's it? Yeah, turns out like our other brown immigrants, these guys might actually bring benefits to our landscape:
You see, the browns are displacing the black widows, and the black widows' bites can send you to a hospital. Vetter tells the Weekly:
Eighty percent of black widow bites are moderate to severe. If the brown widow is pushing out the black widow, we may be actually be less endangered from a spider bite in Southern California now.
The paper, titled "The Prevalence of Brown Widow and Black Widow Spiders (Araneae: Theridiidae) in Urban Southern California," is being published this month in the Journal of Medical Entomology.
The brown widows like to get all up in your business -- your backyard business. They like to hide, a summary says ...
... under outdoor tables and chairs, and in tiny spaces in walls, fences and other objects.
Researchers enlisted the help of Fullerton College students, who got down on hands-and-knees (brown widows rarely exist above 3 feet) and counted these little buggers. A summary:
After collecting data at 72 sites, which involved 96.8 hours of collecting, the authors found 20 times as many brown widows than black widows outside homes, especially under outdoor tables and chairs, and in tiny spaces in walls, fences and other objects. Neither spider is found in the living space of houses.
The browns hail from South America but originated in Africa and, like other brown folks, can now be found, Vetter says, "everywhere."