As the name suggests, this species is not a true widow, but it is in the same family of cobweb spiders (Theridiidae). It packs a less toxic bite than a true widow, although it shares venom protein similarities, resulting in a mild version of the same symptoms. Appearance-wise it has a more oval abdomen, lacks the classic red hourglass, and is usually a purplish brown with pale yellow markings. Both construct messy cobwebs in undisturbed areas indoors and outdoors to ensnare prey. It just so happens though, that true widows end up on the false widow’s menu, as well as pill bugs and other arthropods. False widows have been introduced from Europe and can be found in states along the east and west coasts (further inland too) and around the Great Lakes.
Photo by Brady Schwertfeger on 5/23/20 in Missoula, MT