An international eyebrow-raiser – the dangerous occurrence of finding a black widow spider in a bag of grapes – has hit close to home this week, after an Albertville woman discovered a juvenile spider in produce picked up from a local Target store.
Stories about spiders in bags of grapes, particularly organic grapes from south of the border, are trending on social media and news sites internationally. A woman from Michigan was hospitalized last week after she reached in for a bunch and was bitten by an adult black widow. She’s expected to fully recover. Another shopper found a black widow in the UK in his bag, clearly imported from warmer climates.
Kelly Steinke’s story is similar, as she found her spider even after scrubbing the bag full of grapes in baking soda and vinegar/water. She said the spider wasn’t moving much when she found it, but threw the bag into the freezer and immediately called target to alert staff.
She took a photo of the frozen arachnid later, and posted the image to social media to warn friends of her discovery.
“It could have been much worse,” she said. “I posted it to a spider identification site and they confirmed it was most likely a juvenile, Western Black Widow. It’s crazy. You realize you might find a bug or two in your produce sometimes, but a dangerous spider like that is pretty scary.”
Black widows like to hang out in orchards and vineyards, according to multiple forums and news stories on this new subject. They can consume insects at will, and organic farmers appreciate the help, since they don’t use chemical pesticides to turn back fruit flies, gnats and worms that can destroy crops of precious produce.
Because of the organic movement, more spiders are finding their ways into packaged product.
Steinke said the Target store she shops has been very helpful, and refunded her not only for the grapes but for other produce purchased at the store that shopping trip. She said she’s not sure if she’s going to grab for another bag again, but, like most of us, will be a bit more careful next time.
Anyway, it’s berry season around Wright County now, right?
For more on the latest developments about why we’re finding spiders in produce bags, check out this article by Modern Farmer.