The spider is karakurt

Spider karakurt

Spider karakurt is one of the most dangerous and poisonous creatures on earth. The name of the spider in translation means «black worm.» In Kalmyk, the name of the species means «black widow.» It fully justifies itself and is due to the ability of a female to eat males after mating. For humans, spiders also pose a great danger, especially females who have reached puberty. They tend to move very quickly.

It is scientifically proven that the poison of karakurt is 15-20 times stronger than the poison of the most poisonous snake. Male individuals are much smaller and unable to bite through human skin and cause harm. This type of spider is often associated with mysticism. This is due to the presence of thirteen red spots on the body of the spider.

Origin of view and description

Photo: Karakurt spider

Karakurt belongs to the arthropod arachnids, is a representative of the order of spiders, the family of spider-web-spiders, is allocated to the genus black widows, a species of karakurt.

The exact period of origin of the ancient ancestors of modern spiders — arachnids is difficult to establish, since they do not have a shell, and the chitin layer is destroyed quite quickly. However, scientists and researchers still occasionally manage to discover these kinds of finds. Most often, the remains of the ancient ancestors of modern spiders were preserved in amber. The discovered finds made it possible not only to recreate the external image of the ancient ancestor of arthropods, but also to obtain whole pictures in the form of a frozen process of pairing, or weaving of a web.

Ancient amber finds allowed scientists to conclude that spiders already existed approximately 300 — 330 million years ago. In modern China, scientists have been able to detect fossils of ancient arthropods. In these findings, the shape and structure of the body of insects were very clearly traced. It is on this territory that the remains of the oldest spider attercopus fimbriunguis were discovered. The ancient representative of arthropods was small in size, not exceeding five millimeters, and a long tail, which amounted to about a fifth of the length of the body.

It was used by insects to isolate sticky threads. They involuntarily stood out and were used by ancient spiders to line holes, wrap cocoons, and attract individuals of the opposite sex. The ancient arthropods of that time had a slightly different body structure. In addition to the presence of a tail, which is absent in modern insects, they had a head and abdomen that were not completely merged.

Presumably the first spiders appeared on Gondwana. With the formation of Pangea, they rapidly began to multiply and inhabited almost all parts of the Earth. Subsequent ice ages somewhat reduced the habitats of arachnids. These insects were characterized by a fairly rapid spread and modification. At the beginning of the Carboniferous, they tended to lose the division of the cephalothorax and abdomen. Scientists argue that the remains of spiders, which date back to 150-180 Ma, allow us to conclude that the arthropods of that time practically did not differ from modern spiders.

Appearance and features

Photo: Karakurt spider in Russia

In these species of spiders, sexual dimorphism is very pronounced. The female significantly exceeds the males in size. The average body size of one female is approximately 2-2.5 centimeters, male — 0.7-0.9 centimeters. The spider is quite easy to distinguish from other arthropods. The trunk and long limbs are black with red spots on the abdomen. In some arthropods, they may have a white border. Often, after puberty, they disappear, and the body is solid black.

The arthropod has four pairs of long limbs located on both sides of the body. The longest first and last pairs. The two pairs of limbs that are located in the middle are shorter. They are covered with special hairs that allow them to easily get close to the victim caught in viscous spider threads. Spiders have a special gland that produces the strongest poison. It is designed to paralyze and kill insects. Also, with its help, karakurt kill small steppe rodents, whose burrows subsequently occupy.

Newborn little spiders are almost transparent. However, after the first molt, the body acquires a darker shade, and whitish circles located in three rows appear on the abdomen. After each subsequent molt, the body of the insect becomes darker and the circles turn red. The more often a spider molts, the faster it matures. The frequency and frequency of links depends on a sufficient amount of food supply. After sixth or seventh molting, males most often stop eating intensely and begin to search for the female to continue the genus.

Interesting fact: Surprisingly, karakurt has blue blood. This is due to the fact that it is not scarlet hemoglobin that is responsible for the color of the blood, but hemocyanin, which gives the blood a blue tint.

Where does the spider karakurt live?

Photo: Karakurt spider

Natural regions in which karakurt feels most comfortable are steppes, forest-steppes, semi-desert areas. Often this type of arthropod can be found near ravines, artificial hills, arable land, in desert, abandoned regions, etc.

Karakurts prefer to settle in regions with a warm, dry climate. Due to climate warming, the spider habitat has expanded significantly. They became quite common in the Crimea, Sevastopol, even in some regions of the capital of the Russian Federation.

Geographic regions of habitation karakurt:

  • territories of forest-steppes of the Republic of Kazakhstan;
  • steppes of the Astrakhan region;
  • territory of Central Asia;
  • Afghanistan;
  • Iran;
  • Yenisei coast;
  • the coast of the Mediterranean;
  • Southern Europe;
  • North America;
  • Crimea;
  • southern part of Russia.
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As a place for permanent residence, the burrows of small rodents are chosen, which are killed by the strongest poison. I can settle in dry ditches, crevices of walls, nooks and crannies. They are especially fond of various construction sites, abandoned buildings, in which there are many secluded and inaccessible places.

Climate change can cause migration. Spiders are afraid of cold and damp, and therefore, when cold weather sets in, they leave their shelters in search of warmer places. In dense thickets or in a bare area under the direct scorching sun, this dangerous insect is unlikely to be found. The cunning black widow’s lair is braided by a dense web.

Now you know where the Karakurt spider lives, let’s now see what the poisonous spider eats.

What does the spider karakurt eat?

Photo: Poison Spider Karakurt

The basis of the diet of poisonous spiders are insects. To catch them, spiders weave a web that is hung on tree branches, in the grass, etc. The web of females is denser than that of males. It is noteworthy that the spider webs are not very viscous, and therefore the victim that got into them will no longer be able to get out. Catching their prey, spiders first immobilize it with the help of poison, and then suck out the liquid contents of the body.

What serves as a feed base for karakurt:

  • flies;
  • horseflies;
  • locust;
  • grasshoppers;
  • beetles;
  • mosquitoes;
  • caterpillars
  • bloodworms;
  • other arthropod species;
  • snakes
  • lizards.

In rare cases, invertebrates can be a small source of food, which fall into the web and cannot get out of it.

It is worth noting that the poison of these spiders can kill even animals such as a cow, horse or camel. Only hedgehogs and dogs calmly carry it. For humans, insect venom is a great danger. It is considered the most toxic during the period of marriage. It should be noted that even a small-sized spider poison is enough to kill an adult, strong man. The poison has a pronounced paralytic effect, which instantly immobilizes the victim of the spider.

Features of character and lifestyle

Photo: Karakurt spider in Crimea

This type of poisonous arthropod loves dry, hot weather. That is why the region of their habitat is strictly limited to warm, southern countries. Recently, cases of emergence and spread in the territory of the Russian Federation are becoming more frequent. Here they pose a serious danger to the population, since people do not always have information about the proximity to a dangerous insect. Often with the onset of cold weather they can penetrate directly into a person’s home.

They also do not tolerate intense heat and heat, and therefore, after the onset of intense heat in some countries, they migrate to the more northern regions. Spiders equip their den in inaccessible places — burrows of small rodents, crevices of concrete walls, low vegetation thickets, and other places. The spider got its second nickname «black widow» because the female eats the male after mating. Moreover, this happens with each subsequent partner.

Interesting fact: Eating their partners, females get the required amount of protein, which will be needed by future offspring.

Scientists say that even if, with rare exceptions, males manage to avoid the sad fate of being eaten, they still die, because they lose all interest in food and instinctively stop eating it. Karakurt tend to lead a rather hidden lifestyle. They can attack or attack only when they sense danger.

Social structure and reproduction

Photo: Karakurt spider in the Rostov region

This type of arthropod is characterized by a high degree of fecundity. Every 9-12 years, an incredibly high birth rate of these dangerous insects is noted. The mating season begins at the height of the summer season. Before the start of the offspring, the female looks for a secluded place. The male lays a web, which contains special pheromones that attract individuals of the opposite sex. Seeing a partner who has appeared, the male performs something similar to a dance. He sways from side to side, moves his limbs.

After mating, the female mercilessly eats her partner and begins to look for a suitable place for laying eggs. As soon as the place is chosen, she carefully braids it with a web on which she lays cocoons. After the mission has completed, the female dies. Cocoon reliably saves eggs from damage and cold. If strong winds blow in the fall, they pluck cocoons and can take far away in the steppe, spreading the habitat of spiders.

From the moment the eggs are laid, small insects appear after about two weeks. However, they are in no hurry to leave the cocoon, as they are waiting for the onset of spring and warming. The first time they are in a cocoon they exist due to accumulated nutrient components. Subsequently, they begin to eat each other, as a result of which it is safe to say that the strongest individuals emerge from the cocoon in spring.

The growth and development of spiders continues throughout the spring-summer period. During this period, each individual passes from 5 to 10 links. The exact amount depends on the amount of food and gender. Female individuals molt more than males.

Interesting fact: The body of the spider covers the chitinous shell, which limits the growth and development of the arthropod. In the process of molting, the karakurt resets the carapace, changing it to a new one, exceeding the old in size.

Natural enemies of the spider karakurt

Photo: Poison Spider Karakurt

Despite the fact that karakurs are considered one of the most dangerous creatures on earth, they have enemies in their natural habitats. The greatest danger for them is herd hoofed animals, since they trample in huge quantities not only the arthropods themselves, but also their cocoons with eggs.

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In addition to ungulates, the enemies of spiders are sphexes wasps. They attack arthropods in a similar way. Wasps have a special gland that produces poison, which they inject into spiders, immobilizing them. After that, the insects quietly eat the black widow.

Riders are another enemy of poisonous and dangerous arthropods. They lay eggs in the cocoons of arthropods. Subsequently, the appeared larvae eat little spiders. One cannot but mention one more enemy, who is also capable of eating karakurt in large quantities. These are hedgehogs. They are absolutely not afraid of attacks of these insects, as they are reliably protected by shell needles.

Some species of other spiders or arthropods also theoretically feed on spiders. However, they must be very dexterous and agile in order to have time to attack the black widow until the moment when she can inject her poison. However, this is extremely rare, since karakurt is very fast.

In some regions, a reduction in the number of karakurt is caused by human activities associated with the destruction of rodents, as well as the use of insecticides of chemical origin.

Population and species status

Photo: Crimean spider karakurt

To date, scientists have confidently stated that the Karakurt population is not in danger. In some regions, their numbers are even too large, and habitat regions are constantly expanding northward. In regions where spiders have not been found before, but for the first time all health facilities appear, they should be ready to provide emergency assistance to people who have been bitten by a poisonous representative of flora and fauna.

In some regions in which spiders are particularly active, penetrate the home, or are very close to a person, it is recommended to use protective equipment and fight against them. People try to protect their home in all known ways. Of particular danger is arthropod venom for children, the elderly, debilitated patients, or allergy sufferers.

The difficulty lies in the fact that a person does not always feel an insect bite, and after 15-20 minutes from the moment the poison enters the body, serious manifestations begin. The sooner medical assistance is provided to the victim and the anti-caracourt serum is introduced, the greater are the chances of recovery.

Black widow, or spider karakurt is one of the most poisonous and dangerous creatures on earth. However, it is worth remembering that a spider does not attack a person on its own initiative. He attacks only when danger is approaching.

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Spider karakurt — aka “black widow”

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The spider Latrodectus tredecimguttatus, commonly known as the European or Mediterranean black widow, malmignatte spider, karakurt (Russian: каракурт) or steppe spider, is one of the widow spiders in the genus Latrodectus. This species is commonly found throughout the Mediterranean region, ranging from Spain to southwest and central Asia. Specimens from central Asia are also known by the binomial name Latrodectus lugubris; today the karakurt is considered to be the same species of spider as that which plagued the farmers of Taranto. The name L. lugubris is considered obsolete, though it is still commonly found in the literature. Many consider this spider a Latrodectus mactans subspecies.

Even in Ancient Greece this spider was well known for its dangerous bite.

L. tredecimguttatus is black in color, similar to most other widow species, and is identified by the thirteen spots which are found on its dorsal abdomen (the species name is Latin for «thirteen spots»). These spots are usually red in colour, but may also be yellow or orange. It is otherwise similar to other species in the genus Latrodectus. The Mediterranean widow primarily lives in steppes and other grasslands, and can be a significant problem in areas where grain is harvested by hand.

Like all Latrodectus species, L. tredecimguttatus has a bite which is venomous and, in rare cases, can be fatal to humans. The malmignatte is a significant medical problem in various parts of its range. In the region of Herzegovina (former Yugoslavia, now part of Bosnia), this spider reportedly causes a large number of bites each autumn in field workers harvesting grain by hand.

In Kazakhstan, there are reports of this species biting and killing camels. It is now believed that this species is the cause of tarantism, often falsely attributed to the wolf spider (Lycosa tarantula).

La malmignatta, o ragno volterrano (Latrodectus tredecimguttatus Rossi, 1790) è un aracnide del sottordine Araneomorfi. In Italia è, assieme al Loxosceles rufescens, uno dei pochi ragni temibili per il morso.

È diffuso in tutto il centro Italia e in Sardegna, tuttavia è molto schivo, vive in tele dalla forma irregolare tra la vegetazione bassa, i sassi ed i muretti, raramente lo si può trovare nelle vicinanze delle case di campagna.
Uno studio curato dall’erpetologo Roberto Mossone dimostra che, contrariamente a quanto supposto da diverse teorie sul progressivo declino della specie in oggetto, la malmignatta è un aracnide che resterà sempre ben ambientato nel contesto sardo-mediterraneo.
Il corpo, che nella femmina può raggiungere i 15 mm, è contraddistinto dalla presenza di 13 macchie rosse. Questa colorazione, esibita a scopo di avvertimento contro i predatori, rappresenta un chiaro esempio di aposematismo nel mondo animale.
Il morso della femmina, pur se meno pericoloso di quello della cugina americana (la famigerata Vedova nera), è indolore ma provoca sudorazione, nausea, conati di vomito, febbre, cefalea e nei casi più gravi perdita di sensi. Tuttavia i casi mortali sono molto rari. Resta ovviamente pericoloso per coloro che possono essere vittime di shock anafilattico, come molte punture di insetto ritenute praticamente innocue (ad es. vespidi).
In caso d’incidente, l’unico consiglio, dettato dalla pura razionalità, su cui possiamo fare affidamento è di recarsi il prima possibile al pronto soccorso.
È attualmente ritenuto la causa del tarantismo, per lungo tempo erroneamente attribuito alla Lycosa tarentula.

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Black Widow Spider Facts

Black widow spiders are arachnids that are known for the females’ unique appearance and tendency to eat their mates. They are considered the most venomous spiders in North America; however, their bite is rarely fatal to humans.

Black widow appearance

Male and female black widows look different. In all cases, «the females are the most distinctive, with shiny black bodies and a red hourglass-shaped marking on the underside of their round abdomen,» said Jo-Anne Nina Sewlal, an arachnologist at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad. The hourglass marking can, on occasion, also be orange-yellow.

Female black widows are about 1.5 inches long. The males are about half the size of females. Males are lighter in color, with red or pink spots on their backs, according to the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service at North Carolina State University (NCSU).

Where do black widows live?

Black widows are found in temperate regions throughout the world, including the United States, southern Europe and Asia, Australia, Africa, and much of South America. In the United States, they exist primarily in the South and West. They may be found in dark, dry shelters such as «barns, garages, basements, outdoor toilets, hollow stumps, rodent holes, trash, brush and dense vegetation, according to NCSU.

Black widow food

Like many spiders, the black widow spider eats other arachnids and insects that get caught in their webs. The female spider hangs upside down from her web as she waits for her prey. This pose shows off her bright markings, which, according to a report published by The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, are a visible warning to potential predators that she is toxic. The markings, however, do not appear to frighten off prey. That is likely due to differences in how birds and insects perceive color, according to the report’s author.

Black widows eat flies, mosquitoes, grasshoppers, beetles and caterpillars, according to National Geographic. After the prey is ensnared in the web, the black widow uses its «comb feet» to wrap the prey in silk. Then, the black widow punctures its prey with its fangs and injects digestive enzymes that liquefy the corpse. The spider then sucks up the fluid.

Species of black widows

The black widow’s comb foot is a distinguishing feature. «Black widow spiders belong to the family Theridiidae, commonly referred to as comb-footed spiders,» Sewlal said, adding that comb-footed spiders get their name «because they have a series of stiff short hairs on the last segment of their fourth pair of legs that resemble the teeth of a comb. This is used to drape the silk over the prey when the spider is wrapping it.»

«There are actually a few species in the genus Latrodectus that are referred to as ‘black widow’ spiders in the United States of America,» said Sewlal. There are also red widows and brown widows.

The taxonomy of black widows, according to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), is:

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Subkingdom: Bilateria
  • Infrakingdom: Protostomia
  • Superphylum: Ecdysozoa
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Arachnida
  • Order: Araneae
  • Family: Theridiidae
  • Genus: Latrodectus
  • Species: 31 species of «widow spiders,» including: Latrodectus hersperus (western black widow), Latrodectus mactans (southern black widow) and Latrodectus variolus (northern black widow)

Black widow mating

According to Canadian Geographic, black widows are primarily solitary, with the exception of late spring when mating occurs. Female spiders can live up to three years. Males typically live for one or two months.

A black widow spider spinning egg case silk. (Image credit: Biology Department of the University of California, Riverside.)

According to Sewlal, black widows get their name because «females [carry] out sexual cannibalism after mating.» The female often kills and eats the male, which explains the males’ short lifespans. Sewlal said that scientists theorize the practice occurs «so that the females would get a ready source of protein, which would be beneficial to the offspring now developing inside her. However,» she continued, «this is mostly observed in laboratory conditions so that males cannot escape.»

The female creates papery egg sacs that contain between 200 and 900 eggs each, according to NCSU. The eggs hatch after about 30 days. The baby spiders are cannibalistic and few survive the three-month development to adulthood.

Black widow’s bite

According to National Geographic, black widows are considered the most venomous spider in North America. Their venom is reported to be 15 times stronger than a rattlesnake’s, according to NCSU.

Black widows are highly poisonous; fortunately, they bite humans only when disturbed. Sewlal added, «Only the bites of the females can be regarded as a threat to human health.» And contrary to popular belief, most victims do not suffer serious damage. «Bites from this spider very rarely result in death,» Sewlal said. «However, individuals at risk include the very young, very old and sick.»

The black widow’s bite feels like a pinprick to most people, according to NCSU. Pain begins within a few minutes and spreads rapidly to other parts of the body.

«The effects of a bite by a member of this genus depend on the species, but effects can include nausea, profuse sweating, severe pain in abdomen and back, muscle aches, hypertension and paralysis of the diaphragm, which can cause difficulty in breathing,» Sewlal said.

Pain may last for eight to 12 hours and the other symptoms may continue for several days, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Black widow antivenom is available to help minimize damage.

Editor’s Note: If you’d like more information on this topic, we recommend the following book:

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