Black widow spiders, one of the most notorious (and dangerous) spiders in the United States, have officially extended their reach to Canadian provinces. Sites across the web have attributed their range extension to global warming.
According to Nature World News, the Northern black widow spiders and the black purse-web spider have extended their territory 31 miles northward within the last 60 years. The black widow has officially reached eastern Ontario and Quebec while the black purse-web spider has slowed its population growth in the southwest United States and has grown in its northerly range approaching Canada.
According to researchers with McGill University, the ranges could be even larger. They're urging Canadian health officials to be ready for potential spider bites and emergencies.
Nearly three million people visit American urgent care facilities each year, and insect bites are a common summertime injury. If the Canadian public remains unaware of the encroaching black widow spiders, they could find their way into human habitats.Though the scientists could not directly attribute the spiders' growing ranges to climate change alone, they published evidence that supports this claim.
According to their 46-year study, the two spider species primarily turned up in warm weather and warmer climates. This, paired in conjunction with the earth warming over the last few decades, shows a correlation between climate change and black widow migration.
And, bad news for spider haters, 2018 will probably be the hottest year on record. Of course, migrating spiders are just one of the unpleasant consequences of our changing climate.
The scientific community believes that humans are promoting climate change via industrial emissions and increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Additionally, the lumber industry has clear-cut forests around the country. Trees are vital
The high temperatures this year have led to struggling farms, some of the worst droughts on record, massive forest fires, power failures, and death. This year alone, Japan has experienced dozens of deaths due to the heat. One journal of medicine claims poorer countries could face an even worse fate: it's estimated that the Philippines might experience 12 times more deaths by 2080 if the heating trend continues.
On top of all these consequences, Canadians may also have to deal with the newest threat from climate change: venomous spider species invading new territories.
Even though black purse-web spiders are unlikely to dwell in your home, the infamous black widow spider loves the indoors during winter. Luckily, it's unlikely a human will be bitten by one, but its potent venom could spell disaster for whoever gets attacked. One might not even notice their fine silk, which is less than five microns in diameter, making them just smaller than carbon fiber.
Citizen scientists have also played a healthy role in tracking the species' migration. McGill University's lead researcher, Yifu Wang, notes the importance of citizen participation.
"Distributions of spiders are relatively poorly known, and range maps are often based just on where scientists have found the species. Using Northern black widow spider and Black purse-web spider as examples, this paper illustrates that we can (and should!) incorporate citizen science data and distribution modeling techniques to help bridge the knowledge gaps of less-studied species," Wang said.
This is essential since black widow spiders are classified as prey generalists, meaning they can eat just about anything as long as the habitat supports them. As the warming climate travels north, Canadians and citizen scientists alike will have to track their movements.
You can identify black widow spider females by their large black bodies and identifiable red spots. If you see a black widow spider in Canada, don't hesitate to report it to local authorities.