The karakurt spider is one of the most dangerous and poisonous creatures on earth. The name of the spider in translation means “black worm”. In the Kalmyk language, the species name means “black widow”. It fully justifies itself and is due to the ability of a female to eat males after mating. For humans, spiders also pose a great danger, especially females that have reached puberty. They tend to move very quickly.
It has been scientifically proven that the poison of the karakurt is 15-20 times stronger than the poison of the most poisonous snake. Males are much smaller and unable to bite through human skin and cause harm. This type of spider is often associated with mysticism. This is due to the presence of thirteen red spots on the body of the spider.
View origin and description
Karakurt belongs to arthropod arachnids, is a representative of the order of spiders, the family of web spiders, isolated in the genus black widows, species karakurt.
It is rather difficult to establish the exact period of origin of the ancient ancestors of modern spiders – arachnids, since they do not have a shell, and the chitinous layer is destroyed quite quickly. However, scientists and researchers still manage to occasionally find such finds. Most often, the remains of the ancient ancestors of modern spiders were preserved in amber. The findings made it possible not only to recreate the external image of the ancient ancestor of arthropods, but also to obtain whole pictures in the form of a frozen mating process, or weaving a web.
Video: Karakurt spider
Ancient amber finds allowed scientists to conclude that spiders already existed about 300-330 million years ago. On the territory of modern China, scientists managed to find fossils of ancient arthropods. In these finds, the forms and structure of the body of insects were very clearly traced. It was on this territory that the remains of the most ancient spider attercopus fimbriunguis were found. The ancient representative of arthropods had a small size, not exceeding five millimeters, and a long tail, which was about a fifth of the length of the body.
It was used by insects to isolate sticky threads. They involuntarily stood out and were used by ancient spiders for lining holes, wrapping cocoons, and attracting individuals of the opposite sex. The ancient arthropods of that time had a slightly different body structure. In addition to having a tail, which is absent in modern insects, they had an incompletely merged head and abdomen.
Presumably the first spiders appeared on Gondwana. With the formation of Pangea, they rapidly began to multiply and inhabited almost all parts of the Earth. Subsequent ice ages somewhat reduced the habitats of arachnids. These insects were characterized by a fairly rapid spread and modification. At the beginning of the Carboniferous, it was common for them to lose the division of the cephalothorax and abdomen. Scientists say that the remains of spiders, which date back 150-180 million years, allow us to conclude that the arthropods of that time practically did not differ from modern spiders.
Appearance and features
These species of spiders have a very pronounced sexual dimorphism. The female is significantly larger than the male. The average body size of one female is approximately 2-2.5 centimeters, male – 0.7-0.9 centimeters. The spider is quite easy to distinguish from other arthropods. The body and long limbs are black with red spots on the abdomen. In some arthropods, they may have a white border. Often, after reaching puberty, they disappear, and the body is solid black.
The arthropod has four pairs of long limbs located on both sides of the body. The longest first and last pairs. Two pairs of limbs, which are located in the middle, are shorter. They are covered with special hairs that allow them to freely get close to the prey that has fallen into the viscous spider threads. Spiders have a special gland that produces the strongest poison. It is designed to paralyze and kill insects. Also, with its help, karakurts kill small steppe rodents, whose holes they subsequently occupy.
Newborn little spiders are almost transparent. However, after the first molt, the body acquires a darker shade, and whitish circles appear on the abdomen, arranged in three rows. After each subsequent molt, the body of the insect becomes increasingly dark, and the circles become red. The more often the spider molts, the faster it matures. The frequency and multiplicity of molts depends on the sufficient amount of food supply. Males, most often after the sixth or seventh molt, stop feeding heavily and begin to search for a female to continue the race.
Interesting fact: Surprisingly, karakurts have blue blood. This is due to the fact that not scarlet hemoglobin is responsible for the color of blood, but hemocyanin, which gives the blood a blue tint.
Where does the karakurt spider live?
Natural regions where karakurt feels most comfortable — steppes, forest-steppes, semi-desert areas. Often this type of arthropod can be found near ravines, artificial hills, arable land, in desert, abandoned regions, etc.
Karakurts prefer to settle in regions with a warm, dry climate. Due to climate warming, the habitat of spiders has expanded significantly. They have become quite common in the Crimea, Sevastopol, even in some regions of the capital of the Russian Federation.
Geographical regions of the karakurt habitat:
- the territory of the forest-steppes of the Republic of Kazakhstan;
- the steppes of the Astrakhan region;
- the territory of Central Asia;
- Yenisei coast;
- Mediterranean coast;
- Southern Europe;
- North America;
- southern part of Russia.
Burrows of small rodents are chosen as a place for permanent residence, which are killed by means of the strongest poison. I can settle in dry ditches, crevices in walls, nooks and crannies. They especially love various construction sites, abandoned buildings, in which there are many secluded and inaccessible places.
Climate change can cause migration. Spiders are afraid of cold and damp, and therefore, when cold weather sets in, they leave their shelters in search of warmer places. In dense thickets or in a bare area under the direct scorching sun, it is unlikely that you will be able to meet this dangerous insect. The lair of the insidious black widow is woven with dense cobwebs.
Now you know where the karakurt spider lives, let’s now see what the poisonous spider eats.
What does the karakurt spider eat?
The basis of the diet of poisonous spiders are insects. To catch them, spiders weave a web that is hung on tree branches, in grass, etc. The web of females is denser than that of males. It is noteworthy that spider webs are not very viscous, and therefore the victim who has fallen into them will no longer be able to get out. Having caught their prey, the spiders first immobilize it with the help of poison, and then suck out the liquid contents of the body.
What serves as the food base of the karakurt:
- other species of arthropods;
Small invertebrates can be used as a food source in rare cases that get caught in the web and can’t get out.
It is worth noting that the poison of these spiders can even kill animals such as a cow, horse or camel. Only hedgehogs and dogs tolerate it calmly. For humans, insect venom is a great danger. It is considered the most toxic during the period of marriage. It should be noted that even the poison of a small spider is enough to kill an adult, strong man. The poison has a pronounced paralytic effect, which instantly immobilizes the spider’s prey.
Character and lifestyle features
This type of poisonous arthropod likes dry, hot weather. That is why the region of their habitat is strictly limited to warm, southern countries. Recently, cases of appearance and distribution in the territory of the Russian Federation have become more frequent. Here they pose a serious danger to the population, since people do not always have information about the neighborhood with a dangerous insect. Often, when cold weather sets in, they can penetrate directly into a person’s home.
They also do not tolerate extreme heat and heat, and therefore, after the onset of extreme heat in some countries, they migrate to more northern regions. Spiders equip their lair in inaccessible places – holes of small rodents, crevices of concrete walls, low thickets of vegetation, and other places. The spider got its second nickname “black widow” because the female eats the male after mating. Moreover, this happens with each subsequent partner.
An interesting fact: By eating their partners, female individuals receive the necessary amount of protein, which future offspring will need in the future.
Scientists say that even if, in rare exceptions, males manage to avoid the sad fate of being eaten, they still die, as they lose all interest in food and instinctively stop eating it. Karakurts tend to lead a rather hidden lifestyle. They can only attack or attack when they feel threatened.
Social structure and reproduction
This species of arthropods is characterized by a high degree of fertility. Every 9-12 years there is an incredibly high birth rate of these dangerous insects. The mating season begins at the height of the summer season. Before the start of the breeding season, the female is looking for a secluded place. The male lays out a web that contains special pheramones that attract individuals of the opposite sex. Seeing the appeared partner, the male performs something similar to a dance. He sways from side to side, moving his limbs.
After mating, the female mercilessly eats her partner and begins to look for a suitable place to lay her eggs. As soon as the place is chosen, she carefully braids it with a web, on which she lays out cocoons. After the mission is completed, the female dies. The cocoon reliably keeps eggs from damage and cold. If strong winds blow in autumn, they break cocoons and can carry them far into the steppes, spreading the habitat of spiders.
From the moment of laying eggs, small insects appear after about two weeks. However, they are in no hurry to leave the cocoon, as they are waiting for the onset of spring and warming. The first time they are in the cocoon, they exist due to the accumulated nutritional components. Subsequently, they begin to eat each other, as a result of which it can be said with confidence that the strongest individuals appear from the cocoon in the spring.
The growth and development of spiders continues throughout the spring-summer period. During this period, each individual passes from 5 to 10 molts. The exact amount depends on the amount of food and gender. Females shed more than males.
An interesting fact: The body of the spider is covered with a chitinous shell, which limits the growth and development of the arthropod. In the process of molting, the karakurt sheds its shell, changing it to a new one that is larger than the old one.
Natural enemies of the karakurt spider
Despite the fact that karakurts are considered one of the most dangerous creatures on earth, they have enemies in their natural habitat. Herd ungulates pose the greatest danger to them, as they trample not only the arthropods themselves in large numbers, but also their cocoons with eggs.
In addition to ungulates, the enemies of spiders are sphex wasps. They attack arthropods in a similar way. Wasps have a special gland that produces poison, which they inject into spiders, immobilizing them. After that, the insects calmly eat the black widow.
Another enemy of poisonous and dangerous arthropods are riders. They lay their eggs in arthropod cocoons. Subsequently, the larvae that appear eat small spiders. It is impossible not to note one more enemy who is also capable of eating karakurts in large quantities. These are hedgehogs. They are absolutely not afraid of the attacks of these insects, as they are reliably protected by needles.
Spiders are also theoretically fed by some species of other spiders or arthropods. However, they must be very agile and agile in order to have time to attack the black widow before the moment when she can inject her poison. However, this is extremely rare, since karakurts are very fast.
In some regions, human activities associated with the extermination of rodents, as well as the use of insecticides of chemical origin, lead to a decrease in the number of karakurts.
Population and species status
Today, scientists confidently declare that nothing threatens the karakurt population. In some regions, their numbers are even too large, and their habitats are constantly expanding in a northerly direction. In regions where spiders have not been found before, but for the first time, all health facilities should be ready to provide emergency assistance to people who have been bitten by a poisonous representative of flora and fauna.
In some regions in which spiders behave especially actively, penetrate into a dwelling, or get very close to a person, it is recommended to use means of protection and combating them. People try to protect their homes in all known ways. Arthropod venom is especially dangerous for children, the elderly, debilitated patients, or allergy sufferers.
serious manifestations. The sooner medical assistance is provided to the victim and an anti-karakurt serum is administered, the greater the chance of recovery.
The black widow, or the karakurt spider, is one of the most poisonous and dangerous creatures on earth. However, it is worth remembering that the spider does not attack people on its own initiative. It only attacks when danger approaches.