Eggs of black widow spiders in the genus Latrodectus Walckenaer, 1805 (Theridiidae) are known to be toxic when injected into mammals. We surveyed eggs from 39 species of spiders in 21 families to determine if spider egg toxicity is a unique property of widow spiders, or if spider egg toxicity is associated with other spider taxa. Eggs from 13 species of spiders in three families were determined to be highly lethal to mice, eggs from four species in four families were moderately lethal, and eggs from 22 species in 17 families lacked detectable lethality. Egg lethality appears to have evolved multiple times in spiders within the Araneidae, Theridiidae, and Agelenidae, and possibly also within the Tetragnathidae, Pimoidae, and Linyphiidae. These toxins in the various spiders may have differing chemical structures and could represent new sources of toxins that may be of future research interest.
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Vol. 45 • No. 2