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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?

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closed as off topic by Mad Scientist Mar 20 '12 at 13:32

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Poison specifically refers to ingesting or inhaling. Spider, wasps, snakes, etc. inject VENOM into your lymphatic system. Therefore, technically, your question makes no sense as you are not poisoned when bit. –  fred May 27 '11 at 17:55
@fred Rephrased question. –  milkmood May 27 '11 at 18:00
AFAIK you can drink deadly snake poison (or venom or whatever) without any adverse effects because it is only deadly when it is injected into your blood stream. Might be the same for spiders. –  Martin Scharrer May 27 '11 at 18:39
there's a restaurant in Paris which proposes a cocktail with Vodka, Ginger & a Black Widow floating in it ! Do you think it can be deadly? rcrea.fr/Mushi (try selection > then Hara-Kiri cocktail) –  user6429 Mar 19 '12 at 22:18
while is an interesting question, I don't see how it fits the site, I think this should be on biology.stackexchange.com –  isJustMe Mar 19 '12 at 23:16

1 Answer 1

up vote 16 down vote accepted

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.

α-LTX has a high affinity for receptors that are specific for neuronal and endocrine cells of vertebrates.

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.

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Great start to an answer. Thanks Adam. –  milkmood May 27 '11 at 18:34
@milkmood You're welcome. Hopefully someone else will take this as a jumping off point and provide better references and information. –  Adam Davis May 27 '11 at 18:43
I would add the disclaimer that this isn't a recommendation to start eating those widowers. –  Lie Ryan Jun 11 '11 at 16:17

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