Edmonton family brings home black widow spider in bag of grapes

Susan Bellhouse bought a bag of grapes from a store in Edmonton's Sherwood Park. But the snack came with a spooky surprise.

'When I saw the legs they were really long, and I knew this was not a regular spider,' woman says

Black widow spider found in bunch of grapes

6 years ago
Duration 0:15
Rosanie Duldulao got this unwelcome surprise after a shopping trip to Sherwood Park.

Susan Bellhouse will never look at imported fruit without a tremble of suspicion again.

The Edmonton woman is warning other shoppers to be on the lookout after a black widow spider scuttled its way into her home inside a bundle of grapes.

The venomous invader hitched a ride in a bag of groceries Bellhouse and her daughter, Rosanie Duldulao, purchased on Sept. 3 from Costco in Sherwood Park.

The unwanted house guest had been hiding in the imported fruit for days before it was discovered. Bellhouse was soaking the grapes in the kitchen sink when the spider emerged.

"I was screaming," Bellhouse said. "When I saw the legs they were really long, and I knew this was not a regular spider. Normally I'm not afraid of spiders, but that one, I was screaming.

"For a few hours, I didn't feel right. I was so scared."

'What if you had been bit?'

When Duldulao heard the commotion, she came upstairs to find her mom trembling in the kitchen.

"I was just shocked that we found something like that," Duldulao said. "I told my mom, 'That's very, very venomous. What if you had been bit?'"

The spiders have gained notoriety around the world as quiet killers.

The black widow's venomous bite is considered particularly dangerous because of the neurotoxin latrotoxin, a poison that can cause pain, muscle rigidity, vomiting and sweating. 

I was just shocked that we found something like that.- Rosanie Duldulao

The female black widow has unusually large venom glands and unlike the males, their bites have proven fatal.

But the discovery didn't trigger total panic in the household.

Bellhouse used a pair of kitchen tongs to pluck the spider and her sack of eggs from the grapes.

She placed the creature inside a zippered plastic bag.

"She just told me to take a video and pictures," Duldulao said. 

"I was just really intrigued with it. We just played around with the spider for a while. We don't mind spiders, because we come from the Philippines and spiders are just like everywhere there."

Duldulao shared her spider video on Facebook before she went off to work.

Video created web of interest

Within hours, the video was shared dozens of times and people from across Alberta, including officials with the Edmonton Valley Zoo, began contacting Duldulao, offering to give the spider a new home.

By then, it was too late for the arachnid invader. Duldulao's stepfather had taken matters into his own hands.

He exterminated the spider, spraying it down with a heavy dose of bug killer.

"By the time I texted my mom to tell her that people wanted it, my stepfather had killed it," Duldulao said.

"My mom was pretty pissed because she wanted to donate it to either the zoo or the museum."

A manager at the Sherwood Park Costco declined to comment on the incident, and said any response should come from corporate communications.

Costco corporate communications did not respond to CBC's request for comment. 


Wallis Snowdon is a journalist with CBC Edmonton focused on bringing stories to the website and the airwaves. Originally from New Brunswick, Wallis has reported in communities across Canada, from Halifax to Fort McMurray. She previously worked as a digital and current affairs producer with CBC Radio in Edmonton. Share your stories with Wallis at wallis.snowdon@cbc.ca.


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