Experts claim that black widows are exceptionally rare within the state of Massachusetts, as these spiders prefer to dwell in more temperate southern regions of the United States. But little do many people realize, black widows are surprisingly common in most regions of the US. For example, black widows can be found in the midwest as far north as Iowa, and recent studies have documented the establishment of black widow habitats in Canada. Although black widows are not commonly spotted within Massachusetts, most experts agree that their habitat range has long been expanding even farther north than where the state is located. Black widow sightings are also increasing in just about every region within the state, even on the coast and on the state’s islands. Unfortunately, black widows are also turning up in locations in Massachusetts where nobody ever wants to find a potentially deadly spider species. For example, not long ago, a Massachusetts resident found a black widow within a bag of grapes that she had purchased at a local grocery store. And not long afterwards, another woman from New England spotted a black widow specimen within another bag of grapes that had been purchased at a grocery store chain based in Massachusetts.

While washing her newly purchased Sunview organic red seedless grapes, a Cape Cod resident, Laurie Kaiser, discovered a black widow wiggling in the fruit. Despite being shipped from California to Massachusetts where the grapes then sat on a supermarket shelf before being purchased and placed within a refrigerator for five days, the black widow specimen miraculously survived. Understandably, Kaiser returned the compromised grapes to the grocery store, where a manager apologized before publicly announcing that the grocery store chain conducts thorough inspection on all of its food products. Some time later, a Connecticut woman also found a black widow spider in her store-bought grapes. At this rate, black widows that hitch rides into Massachusetts may be spotted more often than specimens that are native to the state.

Have you ever found an arthropod within your store bought food?