Cop saves his grapes, black widow in custody
OTTAWA (CP) — A provincial police officer
caught a known killer Sunday that may have been hiding in his
refrigerator for days.
Const. Larry Sandell was sitting down at home with a bunch
of grapes to relax and watch TV before his evening shift when
he noticed a live black widow spider clinging to the stem.
“Because it was so docile I was able to move the twig around
a bit and then I could see the hourglass mark on its abdomen,” Sandell
said, noting he confirmed his suspicion in his six-year-old son
Matthew’s insect book.
“Once I saw a flash of red mark there on its belly I
knew exactly what I had,” he said.
Black widows are considered the most venomous spiders in North
America. Their poison is a neurotoxin delivered through two
fangs and affects the nervous system, causing pain, swelling,
dizziness, blurred vision, stiffness, nausea and respiratory
distress. About five per cent of bites to humans are fatal.
Sandell said he bought the red seedless grapes at one of two
mainstream grocery stores near Ottawa and he believes the spider
had been living in his refrigerator crisper for five or six
The spider spent Sunday night in police custody in a mason
jar at the Kanata office of the Ontario Provincial Police.
Sandell said he would offer it to the University of Ottawa
biology department or the Museum of Nature.
While he was not frightened by the discovery, the thought
that his son could have gotten to it first was worrying.
“He eats a lot of grapes and we send grapes in his lunch
to school” Sandell said. “I did a bit of research
and found for somebody like me, I wouldn’t have to worry
very much to be bitten, but a young person or an older person
obviously with a heart condition, it could be devastating.”