While these two spiders are technically cousins, there are many differences between a redback spider vs black widow spider. But how can you learn how to tell these two spiders apart, and do you live in an area where both of these spiders also coexist? This may be important for you to know, especially if you have a fear of arachnids!
In this article, we will address everything you need to know about redback spiders and black widow spiders, including what they look like and where they prefer to live. We will also address how venomous they are, as well as their behavior and how likely they are to bite humans. Let’s get started and learn about these two spiders now!
Comparing Redback Spider vs Black Widow Spider
|Redback Spider||Black Widow Spider|
|Size||Less than half an inch long||1 ½ or 2 inches long|
|Appearance||Glossy black body with red stripe on back; females have trademark hourglass while males are brown in appearance||Shiny black in color with a red or orange dot on top of its abdomen; females have trademark red hourglass underneath their abdomen|
|Location and Habitat||Australia, Asia, and Europe; often found in populated areas and builds webs in any undisturbed area, including wood piles and clutter||Worldwide. Found in warmer climates and in well-lit areas. Prefer dryness and hides beneath clutter or outdoor materials so long as they aren’t often disturbed|
|Behavior||Aggressive with its prey and females often eat males; redbacks in Japan hibernate, but others don’t||Reclusive and highly aggressive if guarding eggs or surprised; will bite more readily than brown widows|
|Venom Level||Extremely venomous, but less likely to bite humans||Extremely venomous and likely to bite humans|
Key Differences Between Redback Spider vs Black Widow Spider
There are many key differences between redback spiders in black widow spiders. The redback spider is smaller on average than the black widow spider. While both of these spiders have glossy black bodies, the redback spider features brown males, while all black widow spiders are black. Finally, the black widow spider is found around the world, while the redback spider is only found in a few locations worldwide.
Let’s talk about these differences in more detail now.
Redback Spider vs Black Widow Spider: Size
The average black widow spider is far larger than the average redback spider. For example, redback spiders usually grow to less than half an inch in length, while black widow spiders grow anywhere from 1 inch to 2 inches in length. Either way, this is a spider you don’t want to mess with!
Redback Spider vs Black Widow Spider: Location and Habitat
The location and habitats of the redback spider and black widow spider vary greatly. This is because the black widow spider is found around the world, while the redback spider is found in Australia, Asia, Europe, and parts of Japan. This also leads to the spiders having different habitat preferences overall. Let’s talk about those now.
Both black widow spiders and redback spiders build their nests in undisturbed areas that often involve a decent amount of clutter, such as wood piles or attics. However, redback spiders frequently seek out areas near human populations, while black widow spiders prefer remote areas. The average black widow prefers a drier climate compared to a more moist environment where you may find a redback spider.
Redback Spider vs Black Widow Spider: Appearance
Many people confuse black widow spiders and redback spiders, given that they are cousins with similar appearances. Both of these spiders have glossy black bodies and red markings on them, but male redback spiders are brown, while male black widow spiders are black or gray. However, this is not where their differences end.
Both redback spiders and black widow spiders have signature hourglasses underneath their abdomens, but redback spiders have red stripes on their back, while black widow spiders have black or orange spots. However, no one would blame you for not being able to tell these two spiders apart, especially because you should simply avoid them if you stumble upon one!
Redback Spider vs Black Widow Spider: Behavior
There are some behavioral differences between the redback spider and the black widow spider. For the most part, black widow spiders are regarded as aggressive, especially if they have eggs or a nest nearby, while redback spiders are more shy. However, both spiders will bite if cornered or threatened, though black widow spiders are more likely to pursue an enemy when compared to a redback spider.
One unique fact about the redback spider is that the redback spiders found in Japan hibernate every winter, which is not the case for any other type of redback spider or black widow. Most spiders seek shelter during the winter months, but this is something completely unique to the redback spiders living in Japan!
Redback Spider vs Black Widow Spider: Venom Level
A final difference between the redback spider and the black widow spider is their venom level. Both of these spiders are extremely venomous and should be avoided at all costs, but the black widow spider is often regarded as more dangerous than the redback spider. This has to do with their behavior more than their venom levels, as a black widow spider is more likely to bite you when compared to a redback spider.
Bonus: What Keeps Away Spiders?
One of a person’s worst nightmares is having spiders wind up in their home–especially the poisonous kind! The best way to avoid getting bitten by a spider is to try and prevent them from entering your house in the first place. As spiders can get into your home through holes and cracks, you can check for possible entryways with a flashlight. If the light gets through from the inside to the outside, you should fill that hole or crevice with an appropriate product.
Keeping your yard free of debris and overgrown vegetation helps cut down on areas spiders would gravitate to. Caulking doors and windows is also a good strategy to keep them out.
Spiders hate certain scents, so scented essential oils can help deter them like peppermint, tea-tree, lavender, and rose. You can add 15-20 drops of a particular oil in a water bottle mixed with water and spritz it around your house. They also hate the smell of cinnamon and vinegar, so these scents can be used similarly.
Rubbing lemon or orange peels on the baseboards along your walls, on window sills, and on other surfaces can also repel spiders, who dislike citrus smells. Furniture polish and cleaning products with lemon scent can also help.
Regular cleaning inside your home, especially in areas that are dark or less frequented, is necessary to keep spiders from setting up residence. It’s also important to keep an eye on fruit bowls, as they can attract spiders.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Peter Yeeles/Shutterstock.com
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