If I eat a black widow spider, cooked or otherwise, will I experience the same symptoms as if I was bitten by one? Or will the venom have no effect at all and just be digested?
closed as off topic by Mad Scientist♦ Mar 20 '12 at 13:32
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The toxin this class of spider creates is called Latrotoxin and once injected symptoms of Latrodectism may occur. Latrotoxin is actually composed of many complex proteins that interefere with nerves in vertebrates, insects, and crustaceans. Alpha-Latroxin is the toxin that affects humans.
Since there are no neuronal and endocrine cells that come into contact with the material moving through the digestive tract, the toxin will have no effect until it is absorbed into the blood stream. As a protein, not much, if any, of the toxin will make it through the digestive system and into the bloodstream intact.
Further, it appears (though I can't find a nice reference right now) that many animals prey on black widows, including birds, lizards, larger spiders, etc.