Canon 300D, handheld
Mamiya 80mm macro w/ extension
Metz 40MZ-3i flash
ISO 100
f22, 1/200 second

Lonely widow
black widow

Yeah, that title sounds like a porn film, doesn't it? Maybe it will bring more hits to this page, because I'm betting it will be one of the least-clicked pages on the site ;-)

Black widows are one of the few arthropods that most people know the identifying markings of — or at least, think they do. In truth, the hourglass mark on the belly can vary pretty widely, in shape and coloration, and though you can't see it in this image, the two triangular 'halves' are separated in this specimen, identifying it as a Southern Black Widow (Latrodectus mactans.) The markings seen here on the back also vary widely — most people aren't aware of ventral markings — and probably indicate a young adult; the juveniles often sport distinct side markings, and the newly hatched look nothing at all like this. The pedipalps, those little 'legs' alongside the mouth, peg this as a female, since the males' are larger (plus the males have different markings and body shape anyway, but the pedipalps are a common gender indication in most spiders.)

I was after a detailed 'face' shot, but was never able to get exactly what I wanted, despite working with a captive specimen in a controlled environment, i.e., a jar. She rarely held still in the right position, and the few times she did I couldn't nail the focus. But this one produced a lovely reflection from the primary eyes, so even though I don't have the chelicerae (fangs) in the shot, I like the impersonal appearance of those eyes anyway. This was one of several widows that I found around the house in the spring, that vanished before summer came around. And yes, I let her go when I was done — I'm sure there are varying opinions of that ;-)