Wikipedia:Today's featured article/December 19, 2013

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Redback spider

The redback spider is a species of venomous spider indigenous to Australia. It is a member of the cosmopolitan genus Latrodectus, the widow spiders. The adult female has a black body with a prominent abdominal red stripe (pictured). Females have a body length of about 10 millimetres (0.4 in), while the male is much smaller, being only 3–4 mm (0.12–0.16 in) long. Mainly nocturnal, the female lives in an untidy-looking web in a warm sheltered location, commonly near or inside human residences. It preys on insects, spiders and small vertebrates that become ensnared in its web. Males and spiderlings often live on the periphery of the female's web and steal leftovers. The redback is one of few arachnids that usually display sexual cannibalism while mating. It is widespread in Australia, and inadvertent introductions have led to established colonies in New Zealand, Japan and in greenhouses in Belgium. The redback is one of the few spider species that can be seriously harmful to humans. An antivenom has been available since 1956, and there have been no deaths directly due to redback bites since its introduction. (Full article...)

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