Black widow spider and grape

This black widow spider found its way to Vikki Spencer’s Sharpsville home in a bag of grapes Saturday night. The spiders live in the U.S., but Ms. Spencer thinks it came from Mexico, where the fruit was imported from.

A Sharpsville family got more than they shopped for Saturday night at a Hermitage grocery store.

A black widow spider stowed away in a bag of grapes scared Amanda Masotto and her mother Vikki Spencer.

Ms. Spencer of Leona Drive said she and her daughter returned home about 11:30 p.m. and were putting things away and washing vegetables when Masotto, 23, put her hand into a bag of grapes.

“‘Oh my God, there’s a spider in there,’ ” Ms. Spencer said her daughter said. “That was pretty nasty.”

Ms. Spencer looked and saw the notorious red, hour-glass shape on the black spider’s back and knew they had more than just a run-of-the-mill arachnid on their hands.

She said they looked it up on the Internet and found out that bites can be painless so people should watch for symptoms like muscle aches, nausea and difficulty breathing.

According to National Geographic, the spiders’ venom is stronger than a rattlesnake’s but most people who are bitten do not suffer serious damage, though bites can be fatal to children, the elderly or sick people.

Black widows are not aggressive and only bite in self-defense but females sometimes kill and eat their mates, a practice that gave the spider its name, the National Geographic Web site said.

There are several species of black widow that live all over the U.S. and Mexico as well as other parts of the world, according to the site.

The grapes were imported from Mexico, Ms. Spencer said, and the store where she bought them told her they would contact the distributor about it. Ms. Spencer said she doesn’t blame the store and declined to name it.

She noted that it’s one more danger of having fruits and vegetables brought in from other countries, alluding to the recent salmonella scare with tomatoes.

Ms. Spencer said they returned to the store about midnight to show staff the spider, which the family decided to keep in case someone was bitten and needed to go to the hospital for an antidote.

As of Sunday evening, the spider was still alive and being kept in a jar in a bag in their garage, Ms. Spencer said.