VIDEO: WXYZ-TV Detroit report of a Brighton, Michigan Kroger store Black Widow capture — a spider that appears to be the Black Widow spider also known as the Southern Black Widow (Latrodectus mactans).
Black widow spider (Latrodectus mactans) sightings have been reported on grapes in the past few months in Missouri, Michigan and Minnesota, and a black widow spider was also captured in grapes from the Kroger store in Brighton, Michigan, west of Detroit. The Black Widow spider from a package of grapes at a Kroger store in Brighton, Michigan was captured and photographed in November 2013.
“I grabbed some grapes out the fridge and noticed it was all webby. I looked in the grapes and there was a black widow staring right at me.”
— Callum Merry, Brighton, Michigan resident
A Black Widow spider was also discovered by Yvonne Duckhorn of Milwaukee. She was checking a package of grapes for mold when she discovered the spider moving “frantically” inside with the grapes. She contacted an employee and the package was placed in a larger plastic bag. She said she noticed a red marking on the spider. Aldi pulled their grapes from Milwaukee-area store in an “abundance of caution” measure and implemented additional inspection procedures at all warehouses and stores.
“At Aldi, we are committed to providing high quality products. We sincerely regret any inconvenience or concern this situation may have caused.”
— Letter to reporter of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (after being contacted by the reporter)
As of Sunday, November 10, 2013 there were no official press releases about the incident on the official website of Aldi Foods. Also, as of Sunday, November 10, 2013, Kroger did not have any official notice of the Black Widow spider incident on their official website and press release section.
Accidental Black Widow spider packaging has possibly resulted from a decrease in use of pesticides on red grapes. Warmer weather can also increase the incidence of Black Widow spiders.
In November 2002 Online grocer and UK grocery store Tesco denied reports that the company used Black Widow spiders as natural predators to control other pests as a replacement for insecticides. Tesco has vinyards in California, but the Southern Black Widow is primarily found in the southeastern United States, ranging from Florida to New York, and west to Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Nevada.
Jackson Landers, a contributor to the Times, recounts his sighting of a black widow spider as a striking spider — very black with a red hour glass, a hesitant to use its venom. He was bitten, anyway, by a spider that was trapped in his socks that he was wearing.
The Black Widow has a neurotoxic venom that causes elevated blood pressure, generalized muscle pain, muscle spasms, abdominal cramps, extreme sweating and tachycardia. About 75 percent of victims experience only local effects. The initial bite is detected by a painful pinprick sensation with burning. Pain worsens and is associated with sweating and the victim’s hair standing on end — piloerection.
The venom causes the release of the body’s own neurotransmitters — acetylcholine, norepinephrine, and GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid). Neurotransmitters, produced by the body’s neurons or nerve cells are secreted to control a target organ or muscle. Neurotransmitters are commonly described as “excitatory” or “inhibitory”. When secreted at the proper levels, neurotransmitters modulated the desired and proper response of an organ or muscle. Under the response of the Black Widow spider venom, the neurotransmitter response can be excessive.
Black Widow spider envenomation is rarely fatal in adults, but can be deadly among children. The actual amount of venom injected, even by a mature female, is very small in volume. There is a detailed successful medical report published that describes the bite of a boy, age 3, who was bitten on the top of his foot while putting on his boots. The boy complained of severe pain that was not relieved by morphine or lorazepam in the Emergency Department. He was also treated with Ketrolac — a prostaglandin inhibitor that is classified as a non-steroidal anti-inflamatory drug used for pain control. Prostaglandins are mediators or local messenger molecules that have a variety of strong physiological effects, such as regulating the contraction and relaxation of smooth muscle tissue, and regulating inflammatory reaction. The young boy was not treated with Antivenin Latrodectus mactans. His treatment was essentially vital sign monitoring and pain management. The boy eventually felt better on his third day in the hospital, and was released that afternoon. He had no residual effects discovered from the bite when he was later evaluated at a point six months after the bite.
Over 2500 cases of Black Widow Spider bites area report to American poison control centers annually. Treatment procedure with or without antivenom have been recommended. Antivenom (Antivenin Latrodectus mactans) is available and effective, but is often withheld because of a fear of acute hypersensitivity reactions. There are apparently no recent reports of deaths from Black Widow spiders in the United States.
See also …
Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel Milwaukee Aldi stores pull grapes after shopper finds black widow spider in container
University of Kentucky Eliminating Spiders Around Homes and Buildings