Look for Black Widows in Your Grapes

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 3, 2009 7:18 PM CDT
Look for Black Widows in Your Grapes
A female Brown Widow spider guards her eggs adjacent to a spa pump near Archer, Fla., iin this 2004 file photo.   (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)

Spiders are hitching rides into grocery stores on organically grown grapes, and growers can't find a way to stop them, Gourmet reports. The problem is, spiders are helpful: They feast on bugs that feast on grapes, allowing growers to avoid pesticides. But stores from Boston to South Africa are reporting spider sightings—including a Whole Foods in Tulsa, Okla., that spotted a Brazilian wandering spider, the world's deadliest.

Ninety-five percent of vineyard predators are spiders, including an increasing number of black widows, which thrive in grape orchards and even resist the pesticides used by non-organic growers. To avoid a marketing disaster, the grape industry has spent millions on educating growers and improving protocols—but spiders still sneak by. “Care during packing is important, but it’s hard to avoid missing a few," said one consultant. (More grapes stories.)

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