August 23 2014 Latest news:
Saturday, May 12, 2012
A SUFFOLK mother was astonished to discover an exotic and potentially venomous stowaway in a bunch of grapes.
Haleana Knights, who bought the fruit for her two-year-old son Henry, spotted the dead spider before opening the packaging.
She suspects the arachnid travelled from South Africa, where the grapes originated, and believes it could be a poisonous brown widow, judging by its tan colour and orange hourglass marking.
Mrs Knights, 29, of Reydon, near Southwold, bought the grapes from the Rainbow Express Store in Halesworth, operated by the Anglia Co-operative Society.
Mrs Knights assumed the dead creepy-crawly was just a common house spider until she studied the underside of its abdomen and noticed the distinctive marking.
Some online research by her husband Kurt and a phone call to a South African friend soon provoked suspicion that the spider was a possibly harmful relation of the infamous black widow.
Mrs Knights said: “I’d seen stories in the past of spiders being brought over in crates of bananas.
“Thankfully, I saw it in time but had I opened the grapes, I may have fed it to my son.”
The precise identity of the species is yet to be determined but Mrs Knights is convinced of its genus because of its hourglass pattern.
The Anglia Co-operative Society has collected the grapes to examine the spider.
A spokeswoman said: “The grapes are being collected for return to our food-buying operation in Manchester for urgent examination.
“The Co-operative takes great care to ensure the consistent high quality of its products.”