Brown widow spiders have been living in Southern California for more than a decade. But recently, their population has been growing.
UPI reports that brown widow spiders were first discovered in North America in 1935. It wasn’t until 2003 that the first spider was found in Southern California.
Now, according to the Los Angeles Times, brown widow spiders outnumber the native black widow.
Richard Vetter, a staff research associate at the University of California, Riverside, told the newspaper.
“The brown widow is really taking over… The brown widows really burst on to the scene in a very short time, and we found brown widows in many habitats where we expected to find black widows…. There may be some competition where brown widows are displacing black widows because there is some habitat overlap. There are also places where only brown widows were able to make homes, but in other habitats the black widows still predominate.”
More spiders is never a good thing (from a scary standpoint) but Vetter said that it isn’t all bad news for SoCal residence. Brown widow spiders have a less toxic bite than black widows.
“If you get bit by a black widow you have an 80 percent chance of developing a moderate to severe reaction to the bite, whereas most of the bites from a brown widow, the only symptoms are it hurts when it happens and there’s a burning pain at the bite site.”
On the downside, however, people are more likely to run into a brown widow. According to Vetter, researchers found 20 times as many brown widows outside of homes than black widows.