16th Dec, 2017

Mother-of-three finds poisonous black widow spider in Costco grapes

Leamington Editorial 26th Jun, 2015 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016
A VETERINARY nurse from Leamington got more than she bargained for when she discovered a killer spider in her supermarket grapes.

Emma Bott discovered the potentially-deadly Black Widow spider hidden amongst a punnet of Mexican grapes bought from Costco in Coventry on Monday (June 22).

While washing the fruit, the 43-year-old mother-of-three noticed a web in the corner of the tub before finding the poisonous eight-legged stowaway.

However, while others may have panicked in this situation, the veterinary nurse kept her cool.

“As soon as I saw it I knew that this wasn’t a native, friendly spider – with its angry-looking red, black and orange colourings,” Emma told The Observer.

“I just proceeded with caution and managed to use a skewer to hook it onto a few grapes and put it in a plastic tupperware.

“I don’t believe in killing animals for no reason, so I took it into work and called a wildlife expert to dispose of it.”

But things could have taken a deadly turn if Emma’s children, aged two, four and seven, had got to the grapes first – with a bite from a Black Widow being particularly harmful to youngsters.

She added: “If I left them to it, my children would just eat grapes straight out the tub.

“But I always make sure I wash fruit before I give it to them as you don’t know where it has been or what it has been sprayed with.

“This won’t stop me buying grapes and I’ll still shop in Costco, but there’s no doubt I’ll be more cautious in the future.”

Geoff Grewcock, owner of Nuneaton and Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctury, was called in by Emma to confiscate the spider and echoed her fears that the situation could have been much worse.

Identifying the spider as a juvenile Black Widow he said they are less deadly than their adult counterparts, but could still do considerable damage to a child.

Emma’s encounter comes just three weeks after Mr Grewcock was called to rescue another Leamington family from a Black Widow found in their Mexican-imported grapes from ASDA, in Sydenham.

And Mr Grewcock believes there is a reason for the spike in sightings.

“They use Black Widows to propagate the grapes in Mexico instead of using pesticides,” he explained.

“I wouldn’t personally use poisonous spiders to keep insects of grapes myself, but that’s the method they use.

“We don’t want people to panic, as these encounters are rare, but I’d urge parents to always wash and check fruit before giving it to children.”

The Observer tried to contact Costco UK to ask whether they knew about this method being used by their Mexican suppliers, but they refused to comment.

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