Size: These venomous spiders are usually a 1/2 inch in length, with a shiny black body, long thin legs and large oval abdomen. Females typically exhibit a red "hourglass" pattern on the underside of the abdomen, but this is not always the case.
Color: Usually shiny black but may also be various shades of brown or mottled brown and white.
Habits: The black widow spider weaves a very strong but formless and erratic web close to the ground and can often be found in drain pipes, under outhouse toilet seats and beneath logs and rocks. The tips of the spider's legs are oily to prevent it from becoming stuck in its own web. It can usually be found hiding belly up in its web waiting to catch prey.
What Do Black Widow Spiders Eat?: Both males and females construct webs to capture their prey, which includes flies, moths and crickets and may also consist of reptiles and other small animals. Their fangs inject venom as well as digestive juices into the prey. This method not only kills the prey, but also liquefies its flesh so the spider can eat it more easily.
Reproduction: A female black widow can produce up to nine egg sacs with an average of 300 to 400 eggs in each sac. The sacs are about 1/2 inch in diameter and have a smooth surface. The newly hatched spiderlings emerge from the sac and remain close to it for a day or two. Although they are not poisonous, they are cannibalistic and will often eat one another. After a few days the spiderlings climb to high points, release a strand of webbing and propel themselves to other locations in a process known as ballooning.
Other Information: The black widow spider is the most dangerous North American spider because they inject a neurotoxin when they bite, the effect of which can be serious and even fatal. A bite results in extreme pain and cramping that can take several days to diminish. Many people are bitten when they pick up a log or other item the spider is hiding under.
Size: Centipedes are very long and narrow, and flattened from top to bottom. There may be a great many pairs of legs, but they will have a single pair on each segment of the body, separating them from millipedes. They have a pair of very long antennae and the last pair of legs projects backward and are much longer than the ones before it. Most centipedes measure about two inches however, a couple species can grow to six inches or longer.
Color: Color is usually dark reddish brown, although some may have a blue-green tint on a tan background.
Habits: Centipedes are generally nocturnal and hide outdoors under boards, rocks, or vegetation during the day. Indoors, they are usually found on baseboards and around doorways and windows, wandering on walls in crawl spaces, basements or garages.
What Do Centipedes Eat?: Centipedes are nocturnal and come out at night to eat spiders, insects, earthworms and snails.
Reproduction: Females lay their eggs one at a time, burying them under a shallow layer of soil to protect them from being eaten by other insects and male centipedes. Some species live up to six years.
Other Information: Centipedes can inject venom through a pair of appendages directly behind the head.
Size: Adult flesh flies are some of the largest flies and can grow as large as 1/2 inch long.
Color: Flesh flies are black and light gray with a checkerboard effect on the top of their abdomen. They usually have red eyes and a red tip at the anal area.
Habits: Flesh flies are scavengers that spend their lives in and on decaying flesh. They will also inhabit decaying organic materials such as vegetation piles and animal droppings as well as garbage dumpsters. They are very loud, buzzing fliers and are strongly attracted to light.
What Do Flesh Flies Eat?: Flesh fly maggots occasionally eat other larvae but also eat the larvae of grasshoppers and have been known to eat beetles, snails and caterpillars. Flesh flies and their larvae are also known to eat decaying vegetable matter and excrement.
Reproduction: Eggs hatch within the female, and she then deposits living larvae onto a food source usually an open animal wound or a badly decomposed human or animal carcass. Flesh flies have been known to lay so many eggs on an animal carcass that, when they hatch, the carcass is transformed into a squirming mass of maggots.
Other Information: Forensic entomologists use flesh flies and their larvae to determine the progress of decomposition at crime scenes. A sudden appearance of flesh fly swarms inside a home could indicate there is a dead animal in the walls, attic or basement.
Red Imported Fire Ants
Size: This is a highly polymorphic species, with various sizes of workers within a single colony. The largest workers in the colony can be as much as ten times the size of the smallest workers.
Color: The red imported fire ant is covered in long, bristly hairs and is identified by its red head and thorax and red and black abdomen.
Habits: The red imported fire ant is one of the worst ant pests in the U.S. in terms of human health, property damage, and environmental damage. Colonies may have several hundred thousand workers and dozens of queens, and workers very aggressively defend their nest with stinging. Nests are created in the soil and can be identified by the large mound of soil raised above the surface. They are very common in turf. Red imported fire ant nests may go as deep as eight feet in the soil, and produce mounds above ground that are three feet tall and two feet wide. When their mound is disturbed they will rapidly overwhelm the intruder and, on a chemical command, begin stinging simultaneously. Nests may be found in wall voids, rain gutters, bath traps, and under carpets, as well as in electrical equipment.
What Do Red Imported Fire Ants Eat?: The workers are aggressive predators, feeding on any other insects they find as well as small mammals or birds, earthworms, frogs and lizards. They dramatically alter the natural habitat when they move into an area.
Reproduction: Males die after mating and the female creates a brood cell in the soil and deposits 10-15 eggs using her tubelike ovipositor. These hatch in seven to ten days and are fed by the queen. Within 15 days, pupae emerge and begin to forage for food. Within 30 days, larger workers emerge and the colony grows. The queen lives up to seven years and produces an average of 1,600 eggs per day throughout her life. A red imported fire ant colony can hold more than 250,000 ants.
Other Information: Most red imported fire ant stings result in a raised welt that becomes a white pustule. If a person is allergic, however, he or she may experience a more grave reaction. Victims rarely receive a single sting; instead, a person typically receives many hundred stings simultaneously. Red imported fire ant colonies may contain numerous queens and have multiple satellite colonies. Up to 200 mounds per acre have been found.
Size: Springtails are usually less than 1/8 inch long.
Color: Springtails range from black to silvery gray, depending on the species. The distinctive character is the furcula or tail-like mechanism attached to the tip of the abdomen.
Habits: Springtails are so-named because of their sharp projection at the tail end called a furcula. They snap this appendage down on a surface to suddenly spring themselves into the air. Springtails are tiny insects that thrive in damp locations. They live in the soil, in leaf mold, under bark, in decaying logs and on the surface of freshwater pools. When found in structures, their presence may indicate excessive moisture conditions in walls or crawl spaces, under sinks, or around indoor plants. Springtails are harmless to humans, although allergies and dermatitis have been reported in some people sensitive to their presence.
What Do Springtails Eat?: Springtails feed on algae, fungi, and decaying plant materials.
Other Information: Springtails become active in early spring and may be seen on snow cover, which is why they have often been called snow fleas. They are drawn to water, and commonly appear in vast numbers on the surface of swimming pools, seemingly overnight.
Size: Though they can vary in size, violin spiders are typically about the size of a US quarter.
Color: Violin spiders, also known as brown recluse spiders, are light to dark brown spiders with very long legs and short hairs covering the legs and body segments. On the top of the body there is usually a pattern that resembles a violin.
Habits: The violin spider uses its silk only for lining its retreat and for covering its eggs. It does not use the web to catch its prey. It spins a loose, irregular web of very sticky, off-white to grayish threads. The violin spider is very capable of biting humans, and its cyto-toxic venom causes tissue death at the bite site, which can lead to a large, infected, and lingering wound. The violin spider commonly lives inside structures, hiding within clothing, behind furnishings, and in attics and wall voids. They prefer to remain in areas of low activity and are not aggressive, biting only when provoked and threatened.
What Do Violin Spiders Eat?: The violin spider is a hunter and comes out at night to search for insects.
Reproduction: Females lay about 50 eggs that are encased in a silken sac. Each female may produce several egg sacs over a period of several months. Spiderlings emerge from the egg sac within a month. It takes an average of one year to reach the adult stage. They live about one to two years.
Other Information: Violin spiders can survive up to six months without food or water. The lesion from its bite is a dry, blue-gray or blue-white, irregular sinking patch with ragged edges and surrounding redness - termed the "red, white, and blue sign."
Elmer B Henderson, NV
All A+ - Your work is excellent. Keep up the good work.