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COLUMN: A black widow in the grapes? No fruit for me!

Columnist reacts to the 'creepy' local story about an unwanted hitchhiker — the black widow spider in the fruit carton picked up at Costco
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This may be another benefit to buying local.

A recent article in OrilliaMatters, published July 21, was the stuff of which my nightmares are made.

'Black widow spider hitches ride here among grapes from Mexico.' That was the headline.

I still feel itchy. I cannot look at my grape jelly without wincing.

Is this what is meant by Grapes of Wrath?

It seems a Barrie couple purchased a carton of grapes at a local store and inside the container was a black widow spider.

Why oh why does it have to be a black widow? Why not just the usual garden variety creepy spider? Why not a less sinister daddy long legs?

Seems it hitched a ride from Mexico. It seemingly had good taste, as the customer said it was the cotton candy variety of grapes.

Once the couple realized the thing was moving they brought it to store officials. Thankfully, it had been chilled from being in a cooler, so it wasn’t moving much.  Thank heaven for small mercies.

A black widow is described as “shiny and black with a distinctive red hourglass-shaped mark on the underside of its stomach.” What scientist has the misfortune to have to look there?

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) website says: “These spiders are not aggressive and prefer fleeing when disturbed. It will only bite when defending itself.”

OK then! I also prefer to flee when a giant black monster with a red tummy makes a move.

The CFIA was also asked about protocol when a black widow spider is found. I may not be technically trained in this area, but I propose the correct answer to this is: Scream and run like hell!

The thought of this thing making it into my house fills me with fear. What if you didn’t know where it scurried to? Could you ever sleep again? What if it bites me or my pet? We would simply have to move.

Again, the experts say "a bite can cause severe pain and lead to muscle contractions, but are not typically life-threatening."

Does this make you feel safer? Me, neither.

I know this type of thing is very rare and can happen with produce or any food item from any location. Obviously, I’m not blaming the store or the product.

What this story taught me, though, was to check my produce much more carefully. Peer inside those see through containers. Turn them upside down. Wash everything exceedingly well. Pay attention. I will be inspecting stuff like Insp. Clouseau from the Pink Panther.

Where’s my magnifying glass?

For the foreseeable future, my grapes will be chilled, crushed and fermented in a glass.


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About the Author: Wendy King

Wendy King writes about all kinds of things from nutrition to the job search from cats to clowns — anything and everything — from the ridiculous to the sublime. Watch for Wendy's column weekly.
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