Why the Male Black Widow is a Real Home Wrecker | Deep Look

Why the Male Black Widow is a Real Home Wrecker | Deep Look


This episode of Deep Look is brought to you
by Curiosity Stream. You know what people say about her. She’s the black widow. She mates, and then she kills, right? Here comes her victim now. He’s smaller, less venomous. Kinda cute. Sweet little guy. But before he gets eaten alive…Let’s talk
about this poor sucker for a minute. And how much of a “victim” he really is. This western black widow lives in California. She works pretty hard to make a living. Unlike many spiders that build a new web each
night, she toils continuously on the same one her whole life. This web may look messy, but don’t be fooled. It’s laid out on a grid of draglines that
she attaches to the ground. It’s a multi-story sticky trap that stands
up to some pretty tough game. When she bites, the venom takes hold, bringing
a slow paralysis, As this lethal knitter wraps, and wraps, and
wraps. But that’s not the only thing hanging around
the web…There’s this guy. Adult male widow spiders don’t build webs
of their own. He moves right into hers. Basically, he’s a squatter. He’s staking his claim to her, because he
knows every sticky thread of the web is covered in her pheromones. And that spreads her mating scent far and
wide, potentially attracting a nice selection of other males for her to choose from. Which is not on his agenda. So, he trashes the place. He goes around snipping strands of her web,
undoing all her hard work. He winds up the loose threads in his own silk,
masking her scent from other males in the area. It’s called web reduction. When he finally tries to mate with her — see
that vibrating? That’s him signaling his interest —
He wraps her limbs in his own delicate silk. It probably serves to surround her in his
pheromones. Scientists call it the bridal veil. It seems subdues her. Makes her more approachable. When they mate, he leaves behind a piece of
this curlicue-shaped organ, called an embolus, in her body. It blocks other males from fathering her offspring
later. So let’s see… Lazy. Rude. Messy. Controlling. Ok. Now let’s watch him get eaten. Actually, in most widow spider species, and
there are 31, the males don’t get eaten. They escape scott free. The Australian redback is one of only two
where cannibalism almost always occurs when they mate. He literally somersaults himself towards her
mouth so she can take the first bite, which keeps her…interested. They’ll mate a few times like this before
he finally dies. Scientists describe it as a self-sacrifice. And she’ll take her time, devouring his
insides later. Least he can do, right? This episode is brought to you by Curiosity
Stream, a subscription streaming service that offers documentaries and nonfiction titles
from some of the world’s best filmmakers, including exclusive originals. Want to learn more about spiders’ habitats? Curiosity Stream’s original short film “Big
World Small Garden” captures the hectic and complex natural world of a London backyard. To get unlimited access and your first two
months free, sign up at CuriosityStream.com/deeplook, and use the promo code Deeplook during the
signup process. So what if a black widow spider bit you? Well, it probably wouldn’t kill you…in
fact, we couldn’t find a documented case of human death from a black widow spider. But it’s definitely no joke. So look, but don’t touch her. Another poison myth? How bout that Halloween candy that was supposed
to kill you? Watch this episode of the Origin of Everything
from PBS Digital Studios to find out the answer to that and other everyday mysteries. And thanks for watching Deep Look!

100 Replies to “Why the Male Black Widow is a Real Home Wrecker | Deep Look”

  1. What I take away from this is that he cleans up after her fairly randomized web laying, basically doing all the housekeeping.

  2. Are we sure the male had dastardly designs to ruin the widow’s web or the widow just asked him to fix the web for her?

  3. If you listen closely, you can hear the the narrator's disdain for her father, who likely had everything taken from him in the divorce after the mother cheated on him.

  4. Let me guess. Your mom cheated on your dad and after they got divorced your mom did nothing but talk badly about your father and now you hate men.

  5. Seems to me more like it that the female lets the male does all this because she wants to pick the one which puts the most effort to get her. The male is even far from lazy as he puts a lot of work to get the female interested. He is far from messy as he clearly has a system in his mind to know which strings to cut and how to cut them. He is not controlling in the sense he takes over her because of the female, in the end, playing with him (and other males) and not the other way around. The female is the one which controls the males by inviting them to HER game.

  6. HOW DO U YOU IF YOUR BEEN BITTEN by mrs widow red back ? A VEIN blows up along your arm and you feel chit haa my got once but very rare ! 😳🥇👍🦘

  7. The spider was a martyr, protecting the other males from getting devoured!

    On top of this, it looks like he did all the work when they mated XD

  8. The title “The black male widow” has a very subtle & racial undertone. They could’ve just said “the adult male widow spider” like she said in the video.

  9. Is it me or does anybody realize the title is male black widow and the narrator talks just talked about a female black widow this whole time.

  10. So, let's see. Lazy, rude, messy, controlling. That male black widow spider is a couch potato, impudent, slob, and a bully.

  11. Amazing how different some spiders are, the fact that the males in this species will sacrifice themselves so their young are ensured a higher chance of survivability is remarkable!

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