Arana Capulina -- A Black Widow Spider

As readers of The Red Hourglass will know, the black widow spider is a special favorite of mine. Hodari Nundu recently sent me these photos of a black widow he found building a web above his cat’s litter box. 

Hodari captured the spider in a jar, then released it outdoors. 

Hodari tells me that where he lives in Mexico, this spider is sometimes called viuda negra, which means black widow, and sometimes araƱa capulina, or black cherry spider. It’s a nifty name because, aside from the outward resemblance between spider and black cherry, both are also toxic. The leaves and seeds of the black cherry contain cyanide compounds that often kill livestock. 

Rasbak/Creative Commons


  1. I'm still amazed at the variation between individuals of the same species...

  2. Those variations caused me no end of confusion when I was a youngster encountering widows in the wild. Here a red dot, there a yellow Chevron. The young looked nothing like the adults, the males little like the females. Beautiful animals, however.

  3. Actually, the capulina (wild cherry, not the spider) is consumed everywhere in Mexico that it grows. During its season, it is sold in every marketplace. It's eaten out of hand, prepared as jam, prepared as filling for empanadas, etc. I've cooked it and eaten it, eaten it raw, etc. Even the seeds are soaked in salt water and toasted until they split open a bit. The inside part of the seed is eaten as a snack. As far as I know, nobody's died--and I'm still here to tell the tale.


  4. Thanks for the correction! I knew the fruit was OK, but had read that the seeds and leaves have a toxic level of cyanide. This may be another case like the supposedly poisonous apple seed, which really does contain a toxin--but only in quantities no human would consume.


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