Black Widow Hides in Suburban Woman's Grapes - NBC Chicago

Black Widow Hides in Suburban Woman's Grapes

Store makes good with gift certificate



    Black Widow Hides in Suburban Woman's Grapes
    Shelly Cline

    Shelly Cline got an itsy-bitsy more than she paid for this past Monday when she purchased a carton of grapes from Marianos Fresh Market in Arlington Heights.

    After putting her children to bed, she returned to her kitchen to wash a clam-shell container full of grapes she had purchased when what appeared to be a Black Widow spider crawled across the fruity orbs.

    "I screamed," Cline said during a phone interview with NBC. "At first I thought it was just a regular spider, then I saw the patch of red on the belly and tried to wash it away. If my husband had been home, I would have had him kill it."

    According to, the adolescent and male Black Widow spider are harmless; leaving the female as the only one that is venomous. The female Black Widow spider’s venom is deadly and is even more so than a rattlesnake or any other spider. It can be identified by a signature red hourglass mark on its abdomen.

    Cline's attempts to rinse the spider down her drain didn't work, so she put the spider in a jar and drove it back to the store. She turned the spider in and the store destroyed it before confirming with an expert it was indeed a Black Widow. But she did snap a photograph.

    "They were very gracious," she said. "I don't want to say anything bad about Marianos."

    The store clerks explained to Cline that occassionally insects and creepy crawlers find their way into the food stuffs they sell. They exchanged her carton of grapes, and provided cline with a gift card to the market.

    "We sell products that were raised in the ground,"  a store spokeswoman said. "We make every effort to keep our produce clean. But sometimes bugs will get through.  That's why we encourage our customers to wash their produce before consuming."

    Cline still plans to shop at Marianos, but she'll be extra careful about spiders.

    “It was a very scary experience for me,” Shelly adds, “Consumers should be more aware of the importance of washing produce right away after returning from the store.”