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Suffolk mum discovers 'Black Widow' spider in a punnet of Tesco grapes

PUBLISHED: 07:34 28 June 2017 | UPDATED: 07:34 28 June 2017

Kimberley Seymour and her nine-year-old daughter Pheobe, from Coddenham, were shocked to discover the venomous spider in their punnet of grapes. Picture: ADAM HOWLETT

Kimberley Seymour and her nine-year-old daughter Pheobe, from Coddenham, were shocked to discover the venomous spider in their punnet of grapes. Picture: ADAM HOWLETT

Archant

An arachnophobic mother-of-one from Coddenham received the fright of her life on Monday when she discovered a male 'Black Widow' spider in a box of grapes.

Kimberley Seymour and her nine-year-old daughter Pheobe, from Coddenham, found a venomous spider in their punnet of grapes. Picture: ADAM HOWLETTKimberley Seymour and her nine-year-old daughter Pheobe, from Coddenham, found a venomous spider in their punnet of grapes. Picture: ADAM HOWLETT

Kimberley Seymour, 33, bought the punnet of black seedless grapes from Tesco at Copdock in Ipswich on Sunday, June 18, but the box sat in her fridge until Monday.

As her nine-year-old daughter Phoebe was off school with chicken pox, Miss Seymour thought a healthy treat would do her some good so decided to open the grapes.

But when she opened the box she discovered cobwebs all over the fruit, and a little spider hiding in the corner of the punnet.

“I’m still feeling a bit shaken up by it,” said Miss Seymour.

Kimberley Seymour and her nine-year-old daughter Pheobe, from Coddenham, were shocked to discover the venomous spider in their punnet of grapes. Picture: ADAM HOWLETTKimberley Seymour and her nine-year-old daughter Pheobe, from Coddenham, were shocked to discover the venomous spider in their punnet of grapes. Picture: ADAM HOWLETT

“It had been in my fridge all week.

“I absolutely hate spiders, I just went into a bit of a frenzy when I saw it.

“I just worry that my daughter could have got bitten, she has a low immune system and is ill at the moment.

“I dread to think what could have happened.”

After noticing the distinctive red markings on the arachnid’s back, Miss Seymour realised this was no ordinary house spider so tried to get hold of the RSPCA for advice.

After having no luck she decided to call her local veterinary surgery in Debenham to see if they knew what to do with it.

Jade Martin, practice manager, said Miss Seymour had brought along the venomous spider in a lunch box.

“We contacted Suffolk Wildlife Trust and they told us it could be a Black Widow. No-one could be 100% sure though.

“It is not the sort of creature you see every day.”

A spokeswoman for the Zoological Society of London said one of their arachnid experts believed it was a juvenile male Black Widow but could not be completely certain without seeing it in the flesh.

The spider has now been delivered to the Copdock supermarket.

A Tesco spokesperson said: “We sell over a million bunches of grapes every week and our growers work hard to clean and inspect all the fruit carefully, so it’s extremely rare to find any unwelcome guests.

“We are investigating the complaint with our supplier and we’ll update the customer with our findings.”

Catherine Scott, a spider expert at the University of Toronto in Canada, confirmed the find was a black widow, but said it was a juvenile rather than a male.

She said: “A bite could potentially be serious but these spiders are very unaggressive and extremely unlikely to bite defensively unless grabbed or crushed against the skin.

“Even adult females often don’t inject any venom in the rare instances when they do bite, such as when stuck in a boot with a human’s foot, because it is energetically expensive to produce and is meant for subduing prey, not terrorizing people.

“Because black widows often live among grape vines in vineyards and so on an accidental stowaway in grapes is not uncommon, and should not be cause for alarm.”

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