British Columbia

Scorpion found on organic bananas from B.C. grocery store

A scorpion hitched a ride to Victoria, and then went home with a local shopper, much to her surprise and alarm. Christy Smith found a live scorpion in a bunch of organic bananas she bought at Thrifty Foods in Fairfield.

Victoria woman finds live scorpion on bananas she bought at Thrifty Foods

Christy Smith says her ninja reflex kicked in when she found a live scorpion on her organic bananas (Christy Smith)

A scorpion hitched a ride to Victoria, and then went home with a local shopper, much to her surprise and alarm.

Christy Smith found the scorpion in a bunch of organic bananas she bought at Thrifty Foods in Fairfield.

Smith says it was still alive when she discovered it under a sticker, but her ninja reflex kicked in.

"All I noticed was the legs were moving," says Smith. "I freaked out, pulled off the sticker and smashed it with the nearest heavy object on my counter, and then was like, what was that?"

Upon further inspection, Smith was shocked to see that the creature appeared to be a small scorpion.

"I'm going to think twice before I stick my hand into the middle of the banana pit next time. I might actually buy non-organic next time or make sure there's no hiding spots on there or any creepy-crawlers."

Scorpions rare in Canada

Scorpions are venomous, but only a small percentage of the 1,500 known species of scorpions in the world are potentially deadly to humans.

There are 1,500 known scorpion species in the world, but they are rare in Canada. (Christy Smith)

"Some scorpions can have a very nasty sting," says Murray Isman, a professor of entomology and toxicology at the University of British Columbia.

"Most of them tend to have more of a bee-like or wasp-like sting, painful but not terribly life-threatening."

He says it's very unusual to see a scorpion on fresh produce in B.C.

There's only one native scorpion — the northern or boreal scorpion — and it's only found in the southernmost Okanagan Valley in the Osoyoos area.

The creatures live mostly in tropical and subtropical areas, typically in deserts, but sometimes in rainforests as well.

Isman says the stowaway likely came from Costa Rica, as most of the bananas that come into Canada are of Central or South American origin.

Double-check produce

Thrifty Foods spokeswoman Erin Coulson says she's surprised by the discovery of a scorpion, but that occasionally tropical insects do arrive with produce.

She says it's fairly common in the food industry.

"It does happen from time to time. We get a bit of a stowaway with a shipment. Most often we notice that before it's put on the shelf," Coulson says.

She recommends checking produce bought at any grocery store the way you would fruit and vegetables from the garden.

Thrifty Foods says it will give Smith a full refund and a gift card to make up for the incident.

To hear the full interview with Thrifty Foods listen to the audio labelled: Scorpion found on organic bananas in Thrifty Foods

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