Meet Delilah! (L. hesperus)

(I’ve already talked about this on another thread, but I decided she deserved her own thread.)

I’ve finally joined the invert club, albeit somewhat unintentionally. I found a beautiful juvenile female western black widow at my work last week. Initially I didn’t know what she was, as I didn’t know that immature females have beautiful markings on the top of their abdomen. I took some pictures but left her alone, then got to work trying to identify her species when I got home. Eventually I found my way to the correct ID, and upon realising she was a female widow, I knew if I saw her again, I’d have to either kill her or remove her from campus. The next day, a client came to me complaining about a “big scary spider” in the bathroom near where I’d seen her the previous day. I went to check it out, fully expecting it to be a daddy long legs or something equally harmless…but lo and behold, it was my beautiful widow friend from the previous day. I couldn’t bring myself to kill her, so I ran and grabbed the ventilated deli cup I keep in my desk for spider relocations and captured her. At first I thought about releasing her in my garden, but after some deliberation (and research on legality), I decided that keeping her might be the safest option for everyone. Normally I’m not a fan of catching wild animals to keep as pets, but given the potential danger this species poses (mainly to children and pets, of which there are many running around my condo complex), as well as the human tendency to squish anything even vaguely resembling a black widow, I felt this situation merited an exception to that rule (also, the western black widow population around here is booming, so I don’t feel too bad about removing her from the wild breeding population). So I decided to keep her, named her Delilah, and ordered a nicer enclosure for her (should arrive later this week).

Without further ado, here is the newest lovely addition to my menagerie of unusual pets! I can’t wait to watch her grow, although I’m a little sad that she’ll eventually lose those gorgeous dorsal markings.


She is beautiful :heart: :spider: :spider_web:. Spiders as a whole get an undeserving rap, especially Widows these beautiful animals have been demonized ( think of who profits from the scare tactic, exterminators ) there are literally more deaths from vending machines than from a widow bite ever! These are shy non aggressive spiders who prefer to hide and run and very rarely do they bite. Theres really only 3 instances where they are likely to bite. 1 when you grab them from their web 2 when they are guarding their egg sack 3 when their life is in eminent danger such as being accidentally squished, when given the change they will run.

Its unfortunate that they have such short life and out of about a 1000 babies only about 30 make it out of the egg sac and then they have to contend with predators, pesticides and humans killing them on sight.

I may be “biased” but widows are my favorite of the true spiders and then jumping spiders, orb weavers and crab spiders in no order.

This can be a wonderful opportunity to learn about your baby in real life and hopefully advocate for them. Im glad you have the opportunity to get into arachnids ( whether by accident or purpose ). I know not everyone believes as i do, but i do believe that everything happens for a reason, and it wasn’t an accident that you encountered her and saved her.


Delilah is quite fortunate to have been found by you, @jawramik . I’m sure she’ll have a nice and longer life than she otherwise would have in the place where she was found.

I’m with you there. Those are really very pretty!


She still gonna be beautiful in her lil black dress :spider: :spider_web: :heart:


I found a little male widow right outside the bathroom where I caught Delilah today. Sadly I didn’t have my phone on me, but I’ll look tomorrow and if he’s still there, I’ll try to snap some pictures. I can’t help but wonder if he was hoping to be Delilah’s future boyfriend and/or dinner. :joy:

Edit: I know that Latrodectus hesperus females rarely eat their mates, contrary to the general perception of black widows, but mating is always at least slightly risky for the males of most spider species. Any time one of my male friends complains about his wife/girlfriend or dating in general, I like to remind him that he has it easy compared to his spider counterparts. :joy:


And the mantises :skull: :skull_and_crossbones: :wilted_flower:

Her: its nothing to lose your head over.

Him : i beg to diff…gah ( munch munch burp) :stuck_out_tongue: :joy:


When I got up this morning, I got to see Delilah out and about for the first time since I brought her home. She’s mostly just been hiding in the folds of the dead leaf in her deli, but this morning she was on the outside of the leaf webbing up the whole area. It was so cool to get a clear view of her web-building activities! (I tried to take a picture, but it didn’t really work with the deli cup plastic not being crystal clear. Can’t wait to get her in a nice little Tarantula Crib!)

She looked rather large when she was all stretched out like in the pictures, but when she’s hanging in her web, I realise that she’s probably only about half of her adult size.


Webbing is a good sign, webbing is biologically trying on spiders just as venom production is. She will make a beautiful mess of her enclosure and i love it :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: :spider: :heart::spider_web:. As she gets to adulthood she will be able to eat medium crickets and roaches. I haven’t tried other prey except flightless fruit flies crickets and roaches for my widows she certainly has the venom capability to take much larger prey but she may flee them rather than feed.


I haven’t tried to feed her yet, though I plan to within the next day or two. Question: her new enclosure is scheduled to arrive tomorrow (hopefully it won’t be delayed). Should I try to feed her before I rehouse her, or wait until until she’s settled into her new enclosure? I’m not sure if spiders (and widows specifically) need time to “settle in” to new homes the way reptiles do. I’d held off on feeding her so far because I didn’t want to add to her stress after being captured and jostled around, but now that she’s moving around and webbing more, it seems like she’s pretty settled. I’m leaning towards feeding her before I rehouse her, since she’s already made herself at home in the deli, but lemme know what you think.


Id wait a day or so after the move so she can establish her new lair, if she already has a lair in her temp house then feed her there 1st. The widows are voracious eaters so you won’t have any feeding issues, they aren’t like snakes who may need a couple days before and after their scheduled feeding. I fed mine like 3 crickets a week and provided some light misting on her web to hydrate if needed, most often they get all their moisture requirements from their prey. You can just throw 3 crickets, roaches etc. In if she isnt hungry she will kill them when they get stuck in her web and she will eat it later.

They are pretty hardy animals that can go months without food ( i wouldn’t do that. ) these ladies are super low maintenance. An interesting thing is her poop will glow green just lime scorpions poop does under black light :joy: although with scorpions it wont be a drop down, their poop looks like it is flung, which is what they do. The metasoma (tail) is actually part of their digestive tract and their opening is at the last segment before the telson ( stinger)


They recover pretty fast from relocating. She should be webbing within a day or 2, once her webbing is established she is ready to feed. I have observed my black widow actively hunt but webbing is much easier.


My male widow was pretty small and could only eat flightless fruit flies and pinhead crickets. I basically put the flightless fruit flie tube in right with the spider and he would wait for them to emerge and pounce on them. They are pretty clever animals.

My male camped right outside of the tube because he knew thats where food comes from.

Still to this day its a mystery of how he got to the top of the enclosure.

He loved hanging out upside down at the top, where my female only exclusively stayed near the substrate. She had an amazing lair she also used her silk to help curl up some of the leaves so it made a nest.


Thanks for your feedback! I think I’ll feed her in her deli, and then move her to the new enclosure after she’s eaten.


You are welcome


Her new enclosure is here! I got it set up, though I haven’t moved her into it yet. Here’s how I set it up (it’s the small “Treehouse” Tarantula Crib, in case anyone’s curious):

Super simple, but I think it has everything she needs. It has a little Eco Earth and sphagnum moss on the bottom, with a couple pieces of dried jackfruit leaf and some sticks (courtesy of my chinchilla’s chew toy stash). I wanted to strike a balance between giving her enough cover to feel secure, without it having so much cover that I’ll never see her. I figure this gives her some options near the ground as well as some climbing opportunities. Is there anything I should add or change? I’m debating securing the sticks with a smidge of hot glue. I also have a (real) gopher skull I’m thinking about adding, though I’d want to thoroughly clean it and then bake it before adding it.


Does the enclosure front open or top open or have top access?

If it is front open you are likely to destroy some of her webbing by opening it. A second consideration is with a front open since she will inhabit the bottom portion of the enclosure.

A top open or top access port will allow for feeding her without wrecking her web or her running out the open door.


It only opens in the front…but her deli opens at the top, and doing that also destroyed some of her webbing. With the sliding front door on the new one, I figure I can slide it open just slightly to toss food in, which hopefully won’t damage her webbing too much. I don’t really have the space for a 12"x12"x12" like you use (also something that size seems a little excessive for her at her current size, I’d worry about her struggling to find food or losing her in the enclosure), and with smaller enclosures, it seems like opening it is likely to disturb at least a little webbing no matter where the door is.

Worst case scenario, if the front opening door ends up being more problematic than I anticipated, I can always get something that opens at the top and save this one for when I get an arboreal tarantula. Depending on how large she gets as an adult, I may end up getting her something larger anyway, we’ll see. But I feel like at least for now, this one is a good size and has good dimensions for her at her current size. The front door slides open and secures closed with magnets, so I’ll only need to open it a crack to toss food in.


I use an 8x8 for my widows. I know its hard to not destroy her web but sometimes its unavoidable. My widows would run over the the disturbed web to investigate. I was never concerned about escape as far as safety for me because i know they don’t bite unless they have to. Her escape would bother me because she wouldn’t have food to eat because i keep my house pretty bug free.

Something you can do is tip the enclosure on its side so that it becomes top opening thats what i do for my baby scorpions. Only the adults get the 12x12x12. They go through 3 sizes of enclosures for me as babys they get the little snap top so that i can ensure that they eat. Once they hit 3i to 4i ill move them to my large deli cup. Once they are past that they get the full size enclosure.

For you id definitely consider tipping the enclosure so it ends up top load, it will be much easier to feed her and you wont have to struggle with her or the insect escaping while attempting to feed.

Definitely a 12x12x12 would be a waste of enclosure since your widow will pick her favorite spot and stay put. Most of her enclosure would be wasted.

About worrying about her missing meals as you discussed, i can assure you she will not miss any food opportunities. Within a couple days she will have her lair and tons of trip wires everywhere once she feels vibrations in her web she will quickly go to investigate. Widows in an enclosure you won’t ever have to fear her not getting to eat, they are voracious eaters, i seen my widow polish off 3 meals back to back it was insane. You have a great beloved family member there.

The enclosure you have is perfect size so dont stress, the enriching items you placed are good i typically build lots of areas that she can pick as her hide, these spiders are pretty clever. She will decide where is best to set up home. The leaf debris is great.


I have a 12x12x12 for my funnel web and it’s 100% vanity for me.

Most spiders pick one spot to hunker down and wait for prey. When it comes to the females they rarely exit their lair once established. The males will wonder just as mine made his home arboreal and he was all over the enclosure whereas my females pick one tiny area to call home and stay put. I could probably house 2 female funnel web spiders in the same enclosure by putting her at the other end of the log. Neither will ever leave their home, they will create their funnel home and stay put only to venture as far as where they set up their trip wires.

My funnel lair, she literally built her web in the same place that i put her into.


Flipping it so the “back” becomes the bottom actually isn’t a bad idea. Only thing is, she does seem to rather enjoy being up off the ground right now. I’m not sure if that’s just a preference of this individual, or if perhaps females tend to be more arboreal as juveniles. She’s mostly been hanging out near the top of her deli, and both times I saw her in the “wild,” she was up off the ground at about my chest level. That’s partly why I got a more vertically-oriented enclosure that opens in the front. I do intend to put the enclosure into a larger plastic bin any time I have to open it, just to be safe. I’d like to do all I can to avoid her escaping into my condo. I’m not worried about being bitten so much as I worry about the safety of Delilah and my cats if she were to get loose.

She ate a cricket yesterday! I tried to toss it into her web, but my aim wasn’t great, so it sort of brushed her web and then fell onto the floor of the deli, but she found it no problem and took it down almost immediately. It was so awesome! I’m always amazed by how spiders with such poor eyesight are still able to hone in on and take down their prey so effectively.

I’ll most likely try to rehouse her this evening.