“So rare here:” 1st confirmed black widow spider in Brown Co. preserved by entomologist

BROWN COUNTY — The first confirmed northern black widow spider discovered in Brown County is being preserved by an entomologist, and UW-Green Bay Professor Michael Darney.

“People send me pictures of spiders, but they’re not black widows. They just think they are, but she sent me some photos and it was obvious that this was a black widow,” Darney told WLUK.

A spider discovered by a couple in New Franken on June 12th is the first confirmed sighting of a northern black widow in Brown County.

“I went and got a container, and put it in a container, so everyone would believe me that I actually found this thing,” said Shane Magle of New Franken.

Draney said what makes the spider unique from other black widows is that it can survive sub-zero temperatures.

“This species has the ability to survive the winter, probably as immatures, and live down in the leaf litter, where it’s not too much colder than freezing,” Draney said.

He continued to explain that this particular spider is native to the area and has been found in counties throughout Wisconsin.┬áHe said what’s notable about this finding is that it is the first in Brown County.

“We’ve found it north and south of Green Bay, so we speculated that it did indeed occur here, and it does,” Draney said.

As he calmly held the dead, but venomous spider, he stressed its bite is rarely fatal.

“It’s a spider with toxic venom. If it bites you, it’s extremely painful. It can be dangerous, but again, they are so rare here,” Draney said.

This spider is now an eight-legged hidden part of Wisconsin history.

“I have no doubt that it’s been living in Wisconsin for thousands of years,” Draney said.

He said the spider has been seen in Grant, Wood and Door County, but said there is no record of a black widow biting anyone in Wisconsin.