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Black Widow Spiders Stow Away On Atlantic Flight

BARTON-UPON-HUMBER, North Lincolnshire, England ~ (BBC) ~ Four black widow spiders were discovered by workers in North Lincolnshire after hitching a ride in a shipment of jet engines form the United States.

The venomous arachnids dropped out of the engines close to an engineer at TC Power in Barton-Upon-Humber. Managing director Bruce Elliot said they had to stop work as soon as the spiders were discovered. Workers were able to capture the spiders in a glass container and have plans to relocate them with local spider experts. "One of our engineers was actually underneath the engine," Elliot said, "one of his colleagues had noticed that a black spider had appeared out of the bottom of the engine frame and was reared up on his back legs. So we pulled everybody off the engines at that point." The staff were able to identify the foreign spiders over the internet by the distinctive red hourglass marking on the abdomen.

The black widow is one of the world's most venomous spiders and is native to North and Central America. Their name derives from the belief that the females eat the males after mating, a phenomena that naturalists say rarely happens in the wild. The females are twice the size of the males and carry potent venom designed to kill larger prey. Craig Gledhill from the Jungle Zoo in Cleethorpes was approached by TC Power for advice on how to deal with the invasive species. Gledhill said a bite could prove fatal for some people. "A healthy human, although it would be a very serious incident if they were to be bitten, if they received quite quick medical treatment they most likely would survive," Gledhill said, "if the individual bitten was elderly or a small child or anybody with a heart or respiratory problem, then they would be in great danger from the neurotoxic venom." The spiders are currently being kept in a glass container and fed flies by the TC Power workers, who plan to donate them to local zoos and other spider specialists.

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