October 21st, 2016

Deadly Black Widow spider found in grapes from Sydenham supermarket

Updated: 8:05 am, Jun 04, 2015

A WHITNASH family got the shock of their lives this week when they discovered a killer spider in their packet of supermarket grapes.

Richard and Hanna Horsley had just unpacked the grapes for their three children, all under six, when they spotted something moving inside the packet.

Closer inspection of the packet, bought from ASDA in Sydenham on Tuesday (June 2) and imported from Mexico, revealed it wasn’t just the fruit that had travelled half way across the globe – but a scary looking black and red spider.

The couple quickly took to Facebook to ask if anyone knew what it was – and were shocked when friends began claiming it may be a Black Widow – the most venomous spider in North America.

They immediately threw the grapes – and spider – into the bin, which they sealed with gaffer tape before calling for help.

“We couldn’t believe it when we saw it – we were terrified and I started crying as I hate all spiders let alone poisonous Black Widows,” Hanna told The Observer.

“We usually let the children help themselves to the grapes, but for some reason my husband did it for them on this occasion – and we’re so grateful he did.

“We can’t begin to think about what would have happened if the children had put their hands in – or if the spider had escaped out in to the house with or without our knowledge.”

Hanna had bought the grapes at around 2pm from the supermarket before leaving them in her boot for an hour while she picked her youngest son up from childcare.

She then unpacked them into the fridge at home where they remained for a few hours until husband Richard opened up the potentially lethal packet.

“The only grapes in or house will be the liquid kind from now on,” she added.

“We will certainly think twice about buying pre-packed fruit.

“Tuesday night was a nightmare, but it could have been so much worse so we are very grateful.”

As it turns out, it could have been much worse for the Horsley family – they received a call just before our deadline to say the spider had made a nest and laid eggs in their packet of grapes.

“I feel sick, ” added Hanna.

“I just want to burn the fridge, but apparently none of the babies hatched so thankfully this should be the end of it.”

After recieving the panicked call from the Horsleys on Tuesday, Warwickshire Police called in Geoff Grewcock from Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary to help.

As soon as the family described the spider to Geoff he immediately confirmed their suspicions and jumped straight in his van to rush to their rescue.

Mr Grewcock told the paper: “I said it sounds like it could be a black widow so we went out to the house and picked it up and it was a black widow.

“The spider is with us at the moment but it is going to be put to sleep at some point as it can be incredibly dangerous if you come into contact with it.”

Mr Grewcock added that finding foreign spiders in the UK is not rare.

He said: “It’s not uncommon of course with food coming in from foreign countries but it’s still terryfying for those involved.

“Animals of all sorts can get onto food, between crates during shipping and sometimes, even in suitcases and we deal with it quite regularly.

“Just the other week a guy returned from the Caribbean to find a tarantula in his case when he opened it.”

An Asda spokesperson said the company takes spider stowaways very seriously and has launched an investigation to determine how this particular one got through its checks.

They added: “We are in contact with the customer and would like to reassure all our customers that these types of incidents are extremely rare and that we have robust processes in place for identifying pests, including spiders.

“All our grapes are fumigated and cold stored but very occasionally a spider hangs around.”