Black Widow Spiders Are Spreading Farther North Through the US than Ever Before

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Using photos snapped by citizen scientists, Canadian researchers have documented the northerly spread of black widows into regions not typically known to host these spiders, whose bites can cause severe pain.

An updated species distribution map published this week in a new PLOS One study shows that the northernmost range of black widow spiders (Latrodectus variolus) has increased by about 31 miles over the past 60 years. Because climate is a major factor in terms of where black widows can live, the researchers suspect climate change has something to do with its expanding habitat.

“In our project, the citizen science data was essential in modelling distributions of spiders.”

Species distribution maps, which show the geographic range of a specific species, are

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