Black widow spider found in grapes from Leamington supermarket

The young black widow found by Jamie Swinney
The young black widow found by Jamie Swinney

A Warwick man made a scary discovery after finding a young black widow spider in a bunch of red grapes bought in a Leamington supermarket.

Jamie Swinney, 67, of Pattens Road, bought the grapes from Aldi on Queensway and was preparing to eat them before spotting the spider.

“As I got them out again I thought ‘oh blimey’ - there was a young black widow in the punnet.”

Jamie Swinney

He said: “I cut a branch off the grapes, washed them, put them in a dish and put it in the fridge.

“As I got them out again I thought ‘oh blimey’ - there was a young black widow in the punnet.”

Mr Swinney, who has a keen interest in wildlife, said: “I thought it was a black widow straight away because of its markings.”

He decided to take a chance and wrapped the spider in clingfilm without gloves, adding: “I thought I was faster than the spider.”

Mr Swinney called the police on 101, who contacted Geoff Grewcock, the owner of Nuneaton and Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary.

He visited Mr Swinney to determine whether the spider was a genuine black widow.

He said: “The way this spider looked I had a feeling it was a black widow.

“We placed the spider in a sealed container, took a photo, blew it up and we confirmed it was a young black widow from Spain because of its markings.

“If it was a normal adult we wouldn’t have to do that.”

Mr Grewcock stated that a young black widow’s bite would be harmless but said had it gone unnoticed, it could have grown into a more dangerous adult.

Mr Swinney took the grapes back to Aldi on Sunday with a receipt and spoke to the store’s deputy manager first, who went to the office to inform the store manager, who, according to Mr Swinney, never came out to see him.

The Courier reported a similar incident in June when a couple from Whitnash had discovered a black widow in a bunch of white grapes bought from an Asda in Sydenham, and Mr Grewcock was called to deal with the spider back then.

When asked what he thought of the number of spiders appearing in the area, he said: “They’re just slipping through - we’ve had four in the last seven weeks.

“In this day and age they’re not allowed to use certain pesticides on the fruit so they do get through.

“It’s always best to really examine fruit because sometimes these spiders lie between the grapes.”

Black widows, although not native to the UK, are found all over the world and only bite when threatened.

Bites do not usually result in serious symptoms, but in some cases cause prolonged pain and illness and in extremely rare circumstances can be fatal.

A spokesperson for Aldi said: “The safety of shoppers is our number one priority and incidents like this are extremely rare.

“As soon as we were made aware of this, we immediately contacted the customer and the wildlife expert.

“Unfortunately, as the spider had already been disposed of, we were unable to carry out our own investigation.

“Whilst the spider was young and therefore harmless we have been in contact with the customer to apologise for any inconvenience that this may have caused.”