Alee Huerta of our Master Naturalist chapter sent me this picture of a Brown Widow spider. Although somewhat blurry when she photographed through a clear plastic box (a very reasonable precaution), it is still quite identifiable. She said that "It was super fast compared to how a Black Widow moves. Its web was very dense and it had multiple ant carcasses in there that it had been feasting on."
Brown Widows or Latrodectus geometricus are not a famous as their notorious cousin, L. mactans. They are smaller and lighter in color, ranging from tan or gray to brown. Their famous hourglass is yellow to orange rather than bright red. They also have distinctive stripes on their legs as seen above.
|Brown Widow dorsal view - Bill & Mark Bell CC|
|Brown Widow egg sac - Wikipedia|
Some evidence suggests that they are more aggressive than their black cousins and are displacing them in California. This may be good news for us as they are have a less toxic venom and their bites less serious. Either way, Widow spider bites are unpleasant and painful although rarely lethal.
| Click to enlarge -INaturalist|
|World wide distribution - Donald W. Hall, Entnemdept.ufl.edu|
* Yes, we are the only species that has covered the entire globe in its 4.5 billion year history. That "fun fact" and many others come from Darwin Comes to Town, a book that I would highly recommend. It focuses on the fact that evolution is occurring much faster than we ever dreamed.