insects and arachnids thinking big

Black Widow

Less than 1% fatality.

🕷️🌯: That’s the science on being bit by a black widow. Not instant death on saying the words, or looking at a photograph. You don’t keel over from walking past one, or letting your eyeballs rest on her. This beauty, undisturbed, is living her best spider life. Hanging out, deciding what to have for lunch. Today, I opted for a veggie burrito, while she settled on a well wrapped bug. To each their own.

I don’t want to be blasé about her venom though. I have not experienced a black widow bite, and I hope to keep it that way. I’ve read the pain can be very real, and the risk is greater for the very young and the elderly than it is for me.

🕷️📵: But humans have a gnarly tendency to fear all the wrong things. We are quick to spin tall tales around small dangers, but slow to act on the real but boring or difficult ones. Otherwise rational people learn a black widow — generally shy and timid spiders — was once seen in a field, and run straight back to their car to drive home doing 140kph. While texting.

🌬️🕷️: To be clear — I am also afraid of black widows. Not the spider herself. She is exquisite. But why she is here… Now that does worry me. Like ticks, climate change is shifting their range further north. Lines on a political map don’t define where critters live, habitat does. Wherever they can survive, that’s where they’ll be. And Canada’s welcome is not so cold anymore. This tiny spider’s presence is a sign my habitat is changing. She is a glossy black canary in this coal mine.

🛤️⤵️: The world around us is screaming to pay attention, but we are driving too fast to notice. I hope that as individuals and communities and municipalities and provinces and nations that we learn to pump the brakes in time, and chose a different direction.


Additional black widow reading:

CBC article on black widows and climate change

CBC article on ticks and climate change

About the Northern Black Widow (Michigan State University)

About the Northern Black Widow (Nature Conservancy of Canada)