Have Some Fruit, Hold The Spider

By Maggie Vespa

February 8, 2011 Updated Feb 8, 2011 at 11:50 PM CDT

It's been the advice of American mothers for decades. Eat your fruits and vegetables.

But after employees sorting produce at one local grocery store got a big scare, fruits and veggies may not sound so appealing.

As unrealistic as Hollywood can make it seem, these little guys represent many Americans' biggest fear.

For Jim Evers, an employee at WalMart in Washington, that fear became very real when he was unpacking a shipment of bananas.

"I take that out and shake it out, because we recycle, and this big spider fell out," he said.

Later, when he heard a co-worker found a second one, he got a closer look.

"It struck me as a wolf spider. I have those in my shed. But it's a little bigger."

But this was no Central Illinois native.

Evers says experts consulted by the store determined it was a Braizillian Wandering spider, aka 'the banana spider.'

It's native to South and Central America. The bananas came from Guatemala.

Our attempts to contact Walmart were unsuccessful, but local wildlife experts say this spider is nothing to mess with.

"So there's eight species in this genus of spiders that are called banana spiders. One that's super toxic," said Susie Grana of the Forest Park Nature Center.

Grana says that species is one of the most poisonous spiders in the world.

While she says that's likely not the one Evers found, she says finding critters inside foreign produce is not uncommon.

Something people at Peoria's Naturally Yours Grocery store know all too well.

Managers at Naturally Yours there is one employee dedicated to checking and cleaning all fruit and vegetables before it goes out on the shelves.

While it's not common they say they have found critters lurking in those boxes, but they say that's just the price you pay to be all natural.

"Theres' no pesticides, no sprays. It's just a little bit healthier for you," explained assistant manager Virginia White.

And while the banana spider may have given Evers and his coworkers a scare, Grana says don't worry about a scene like this overtaking your produce section.

"This is not their climate. They would not do very well here. If you leave it alone, there's nothing to worry about."

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