Workers at Jaguar's
Design Engineering Centre in Coventry got a shock visit from a
lethal stowaway that arrived in a delivery to the plant.
of the world's most dangerous spiders, a black widow, was
discovered in a shipment of tyres and wheels from Florida last
The female spider was
spotted by employees John Grady and Ron Seal who recognised the
spider from previous trips to Florida and managed to capture it
in a plastic container.
Ron Seal said:
"On trips to our
Florida Testing Centre visitors are warned on arrival about
the presence of black widow spiders, and their distinguishing
feature is a red hour-glass on the underside. As soon as I saw
that feature on the spider I knew there was a potential spider
and so immediately cleared the area of people and called the
plant protection officer."
Mick Perkins, senior
plant protection officer at the Whitley site added:
"John and Ron
acted very responsibly by clearing everyone out of the room.
They were brave to capture the spider and confirm using the
internet what breed it was. The first thing we did was contact
the RSPCA and Rentokil, and the area was kept secure until
Rentokil confirmed that no more spiders could have come over
in the consignment."
Richard Seddon, RSPCA
Chief Inspector for Coventry and Warwickshire, praised the
"The black widow
spider is found in the United States and its bite could lead
to a potentially fatal situation. They look like normal
spiders and are often smaller than our large house spiders so
the workers acted very sensibly indeed by securing the area
and calling the RSPCA."
An RSPCA officer took
the spider to the Stratford upon Avon Butterfly Farm where she
will be cared for by a specialist handler. The farm already has
one female black widow spider in its care.
Black widow spiders are
found in every state in the USA except Alaska and Hawaii. The
bite of the female is fifteen times more venomous than that of
the prairie rattlesnake. The body of the female is about 1.5in
long. Males are about half the size of the female and are
harmless, as are the juveniles of both sexes.