I am pleased to present my latest completed wildlife illustration: a Western Black Widow.

– Class: Arachnida
– Order: Araneae
– Family: Theridiidae
– Genus: Latrodectus
– Species: L. hesperus


This illustration of a female Western Black Widow was completed on March 3, 2017. I chose this subject for a variety of reasons: 1) I am fascinated with venomous and potentially dangerous animals, 2) This species was, until recently, by far the most common spider around my home in Los Angeles (rapidly being displaced by the introduced Brown Widow), 3) I was bitten by one on the finger a few years back. I realized the bite was a Black Widow bite as it progressed over several days, with my hand and lower arm swelling and extreme pain. I didn’t know how the bite occurred, until my wife and I searched and found a large female on a web at the head of our bed just below my pillow. Studying this creature in detail for several days was cathartic.


The Western Black Widow is a highly venomous spider found in western North America. Adult females, which are much larger than males, are readily identified by their shiny black body coloration and the red hourglass on the abdomen, though the hourglass color can be highly variable. Males are roughly half the size of the female and are usually tan and striped. Their webs are known for being very sloppy. They are most active at night in warmer climates. This species is not aggressive and generally tries to avoid contact with humans. While the side effects of bites are often bad, bites are rarely fatal. Consumption of males by females, which gives them their name, is extremely rare.

8 inches X 10 inches

Pen and ink on paper (Staedtler pigment liner on Strathmore medium drawing paper)
Color version was colored in Corel Painter Essentials 5.


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