Woman finds two black widows in bag of grapes from NE store

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OMAHA, NE (KETV/CNN) – A Nebraska grocery store refunded a customer’s money after she found spiders inside a bag of grapes, but they’re warning that with pesticide use declining, incidents like these may happen more frequently.

When a woman from Omaha, NE, reached into her bag of red grapes to eat one Thursday, she received an unwelcome surprise: not just one but two black widow spiders hiding inside.

The Hy-Vee grocery store where the woman bought the grapes called the incident “an unfortunate situation” and refunded her money. They also re-inspected all produce in the store.

“Hy-Vee’s grape suppliers have implemented several procedures to help control spiders and ensure that they do not make it into distribution channels,” said spokesperson Christina Gayman.

In addition, she says shipping containers, grapes and packaging are also visually inspected several times.

However, because of declining pesticide use, Gayman says retailers and consumers may find spiders or spiderwebs on their produce from time to time.

Spokesperson Molly Mullen, who works at Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE, says between 700 and 800 people in the U.S. find black widows in their grapes every year.

The spiders found Thursday aren’t the first to show up in the local area, according to Mullen. A similar incident happened last December.

In addition, on July 16, a woman in Connecticut found a black widow in her package of grapes.

Hy-Vee says it’s checking with a supplier to see if there are any similarities between the cases.

Thankfully, black widow bites are uncommon and rarely deadly, according to naturalist Debbie Beck with Fontenelle Forest.

“They say that black widow venom is about 14 times stronger than rattlesnake venom. However, their jaws are so weak, and they’re so timid – they’re not aggressive – that bites aren’t that common,” Beck said.

However, people who are bitten are encouraged to go to a doctor immediately. They may experience swelling and numbness.

If possible, it is recommended that you also bring the spider to the doctor, so the type of spider that bit you can be verified.

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