Spider hitches ride in broccoli bunch

By Juliette Laaka | Jan 07, 2013
Courtesy of: Brenda Thomas This spider, sized against a nickel, was found by Rockland resident Brenda Thomas in a broccoli bunch.

Rockland — Brenda Thomas of Rockland chose a particular broccoli bunch due to its favorable appearance. Apparently, a black widow spider shared her taste.

Thomas purchased the produce about two weeks ago and said nothing was amiss until supper time. That night, when preparing the broccoli for dinner, Thomas found a web in the center of the crown with a black spider tucked inside.

The spider sported an unusual red marking in the shape of an hourglass on its abdomen — markings consistent with descriptions of black widow spiders.

Thomas placed the arachnid in the sink and doused it with scalding water to dually kill and preserve it.

"It was a very scary thing to happen," she said.

Thomas has two young children, ages 22 months and 5 months, that were in the cart with the groceries that day and said she is fortunate nothing happened.

In her research of black widows, she said their bite can be particularly harmful to children and the elderly.

Thomas described the incident as a "one in a million chance."

"This is not an urban legend and can happen even right here in Rockland," she said in an email.

Thomas said preparing for the possibility of finding a foreign species is necessary and wants the public to be mindful that produce is often shipped all over the world. Thomas said the broccoli she bought containing the spider may have been from a Central American country.

Black widows are found in North America, but not in Maine.

Thomas said she does not plan to pursue legal action although a lawyer saw her postings on Facebook about the spider and offered to write a letter to the company on her behalf.

A spokesperson for a local supermarket said, "occasionally these situations occur, which is why we encourage our customers to always wash and inspect their produce. If we do see a case where a customer returns produce that may have contained a spider, we will refund the money and notify the supplier of the situation."

Despite the surprise, Thomas said she still loves broccoli.

Courier Publications reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext.118 or via email at jlaaka@courierpublicationsllc.com.

A spider found inhabiting a broccoli bunch is now dead and preserved in rubbing alcohol.
A spider found inhabiting a broccoli bunch is now preserved in rubbing alcohol.
Comments (8)
Posted by: Timothy Malmstrom | Jan 10, 2013 22:54

we have had a few from work that came in some parts

Posted by: DAVID NEILSON | Jan 09, 2013 06:25

I'm totally impressed that Brenda didn't immediately squash it to death!  That would have been my first reaction!  Impressive looking arachnid!

Posted by: David Cobey | Jan 08, 2013 13:59

1946, New Haven. A stalk loaded with bunches of bananas was being offloaded from a produce truck as my aunt and I were walking toward the grocery store. Suddenly the man carrying the stalk dropped it and jumped away. A huge spider scampered away from the bananas. Things and people were flying around. A pack of cigarettes landed near the spider, which was nearly the length of the pack. A woman slapped her bag against the spider. It wore an hour glass figure.

Posted by: Brenda Thomas | Jan 08, 2013 08:17

The broccoli was "regular" not organic and was purchased at Shaw's in Rockland.

Posted by: Galo Joseph Hernandez 3rd | Jan 07, 2013 23:54

Im just curious as to this was "regular" or Organic head of Broccoli


Posted by: Sumner Kinney | Jan 07, 2013 15:30

I agree with Mr. Dyer, good for you Brenda. 

Posted by: Ronald E Dyer | Jan 07, 2013 11:26

Good to see there was a lawyer standing by to offer his or her services to help right this terrible wrong... for a "reasonable" settlement of course. Good for Ms Thomas for taking the high ground.

Posted by: Amanda Brown | Jan 07, 2013 11:02

I think it should be public knowledge which grocery store the broccoli came from.  Just in case this wasn't a once in a million event.


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