Black widow spiders, a venomous species, went farther north than ever before, according to a recent Canadian study which blames the climate change for this bizarre behavior of these spiders. The researchers got help from the people who sent them photos with the small spider species.
The study, recently issued in the PLOS ONE journal and carried out by Yifu Wang, Ph.D. at the Cambridge University, and her co-workers from the McGill University and the Montreal Insectarium found the needed help from the regular individuals’ pics with black widows spiders, taken in different areas across northern US and Canada.
Regarding the never-before-seen localization of black widow spiders, far up north, Yifu Wang, the study’s leading author, stated that “they’re occupying new habitats that we didn’t previously think they could,” adding that climate change is most likely the culprit for this behavior.
Black widow spiders are a small but highly venomous species
The new data unveiled by the Canadian study are beneficial for both the residents and the health authorities in the northern areas to be better prepared as the black widow spiders are moving farther north.
According to the Nature Conservancy of Canada, black widow spiders are a venomous species that rarely bites humans. However, when they do, their venom is not lethal for humans, but it causes severe pain and highly painful muscle contractions.
Besides, they are “a really small species, so they are very hard to find,” explained Wang. For that reason, the researchers had difficulties in pinpointing the exact areas the black widow spiders inhabit, and the majority of the maps regarding their geographical distribution are based on reported sightings from the public. That’s why Yifu Wang and her colleagues from the McGill University and the Montreal Insectarium combined scientific surveys with the photos with black widow spiders submitted by regular individuals.
According to the study’s results, the black widow spiders are moving farther north in the US and Canada, most likely because of the climate change.