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African 'Brown Widow' Spider Found in Oregon

The invasive species is native to Africa but has been found previously in Florida, California and the Gulf States. Now it has apparently shown up in Oregon.

Posted: Oct. 5, 2018 4:09 PM
Updated: Oct. 5, 2018 4:10 PM

SALEM, Ore. — While the black widow spider is no stranger to Oregon, state officials now say that its African cousin — the brown widow — has made its first appearance in the state, according to the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA).

At least one specimen was discovered at a property in Oregon City during September of this year. It was previously unknown in Oregon, but has made appearances in California, Florida and the Gulf States.

Officials do not yet know how the spiders arrived in this area.

The brown widow looks similar to a black widow, but is lighter in color and has an orange hourglass-shaped marking on the underside of its body that is somewhat different from the scarlet markings on the black widow. The spider also lays spiny-looking egg sacs in "dark corners and other sheltered area," according to ODA.

Although the brown widow packs venom that is very similar to that of the black widow in potency, ODA says that bites are "potentially medically significant.

ODA says that it is trying to determine whether the brown widow has established itself "out of doors" in Oregon. If you believe you have found a brown widow, ODA asks that you take images and notify them at plant-entomologists@oda.state.or.us or 503-986-4636.

"Remember!" ODA said in a Facebook post, "Most spiders you're seeing outdoors are cross spiders with big webs. The brown widow likes hidden, dark spaces. Check carefully before sending in photos of suspected brown widows."

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