Reasonable chance of finding spiders on the bananas

Cleanup in aisle one!

Shopper shocked after finding tarantula on bunch of bananas – Telegraph.

Mark, from Sydenham, south-east London, said : “I went into the store and picked up a few items. Then I went to the fruit and vegetable area and picked up some bananas.

“I started to pick them apart and then I realised there was a tarantula hanging from the side of the bananas.

“It was the size of the palm of my hand. It was hairy. It was scary enough. I shook the banana and the tarantula fell back into the box.

The spider has not actually been identified yet so it may not actually be a tarantula – just big and hairy.

I’ve heard of this stuff before.

But how often do spiders hitch a ride with tropical fruit?

Well, the Brazilian Wandering spider does tend to wander and appear in the produce section. They have a serious bite and like to hide in dark places. One was found in Walmart bananas in 2011.

Brazilian Wandering spider found at Whole Foods in Tulsa in 2009

Brazilian Wandering spider found at Whole Foods in Tulsa in 2009

 

This Scientific American piece notes that some of these toxic spider may actually be a Huntsman spider because of the behavior described. And, it includes a great interview about hitchhiker spiders.

How common is it to find a spider in grocery store fruit—and are spiders more common in grapes and bananas from certain regions?
For the bananas, you have a reasonable chance of getting them in ones imported from anywhere in Central or South America, the main sources of the fruit. I have no idea of the actual risk, but there are different types of wandering and huntsman spiders throughout Latin America. You pretty much have a chance of getting black widows—which are found all over the world—in grapes anywhere they grow.

But the bottom line is, your chances of encountering one are low and getting bitten is even lower. So don’t worry. Keeping eating bananas and grapes. Just keep an eye out.

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  9 comments for “Reasonable chance of finding spiders on the bananas

  1. Chris Howard
    June 6, 2013 at 11:52 AM

    I once saw a Night Gallery episode with a big hairy spider in it, and have been arachnophobic ever since. Now I don’t think I’ll be able to go near bananas at the HEB!?

    Thanks Obama!

  2. Stevarious
    June 6, 2013 at 11:57 AM

    Was eating a banana when this popped up on my phone.

    Yay.

  3. RDW
    June 6, 2013 at 12:42 PM

    I’m usually not that bothered by most spiders. Most spiders are for the most part fairly harmless. But a big ugly tarantula would make me jump, I’d think. I’ve seen Black Widows around here and have been bitten by Brown Recluses on more than one occasion, but for the most part, spiders do a lot more good in a garden than they do to harm anyone.

  4. Geoff Offermann
    June 6, 2013 at 12:50 PM

    I’m starting to itch.

  5. Chuck Nelson
    June 6, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    I used to work green grocery in high school. We would get big spiders in the banana boxes every now and then. They were deceased, I was told that the boxes were fumigated to kill them.

  6. Chris
    June 6, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    By pure coincidence, this fits with today’s Zits comic:
    http://zitscomics.com/comics/june-6-2013/

  7. Russell G.
    June 7, 2013 at 9:45 AM

    I’ve never found live animals on food (which kind of surprises me because I live in a tropical climate), but I used to find dead flies in a particular breakfast cereal, on a regular basis, about 10 years ago.

  8. Chris
    June 7, 2013 at 10:52 PM

    Come on, folks! Just find a large jar and capture the critter. If you don’t want it as a pet, then take it to your local zoo or entomologist. It may prove useful as a display animal, or notification of an invasive species.

    Um, with spiders the latter may not be that much of a problem. For other critters that ride in on produce like the, Spotted Wing Drosiphila aka Cherry Vinegar Fruit Fly, there can be a big problem.

  9. January 1, 2014 at 6:44 AM

    Something I’ve actually had some experience with. The boxes (and bananas) are fumigated to kill off any little critters that survived the washing process. Also, Bananas are stored for transport at a chilly 13c and often for weeks as they’re transported from the Dominican Republic or the Windward Isles all over the globe. Again, this doesn’t do your average arachnid any favours!

    I’ve personally handled and inspected 1,000s of tons of bananas over the last 5 or so years, and I can remember the 3 occasions when I’ve found something alive. Twice it was cockroaches and the other time it was a spider. A rather black, large and spindly legged chap… which I promptly killed with a banana! It does happen, but it is very rare.

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