Deadly Spider Found At Tulsa Store

Tuesday, March 17th 2009, 9:48 pm
By: News On 6

By Jennifer Loren, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The world's deadliest spider found in a Tulsa grocery store.  An employee at Whole Foods Market at 1401 East 41st Street found a Brazilian Wandering Spider wandering around in their produce section. 

The store handed the spider over to biologists at the University of Tulsa who say that employee is lucky to be alive.

Terry Childs is the director of TU's Animal Facilities and a self-proclaimed spider lover.  He has a scary-looking but harmless friend Cuddles the tarantula.  He is harmless, unless you're an insect.

"The venom starts to break the prey down on the inside and then she slurps it out kind of like a smoothie," said Terry Childs.

Childs' department is now home to a Brazilian Wandering Spider.  It's being kept in a terrarium with a do not disturb sign.  More people die from the spider's bite than any other spider in the world.

"Within minutes you will have breathing problems, you'll start to lose control of your muscles, you'll start to drool and within 20 to 25 minutes you'll probably collapse on the floor and die of asphyxiation," said Terry Childs.

And, that's why he says people at Tulsa's Whole Foods market are lucky to be alive.

On Sunday an employee found the spider wandering across the bananas in the produce section.

"She managed to capture it in one of these containers until I got there," said Terry Childs.

Apparently the spider, also known as a banana spider, hitched a ride on some bunches of bananas all the way from Honduras.  It turns out it is the kind of thing that happens all the time, but this particular spider is more threatening than most.

"This particular one happens to be one of the most aggressive ones I've actually come across. This thing will actually jump at you," said Terry Childs.

A manager at Whole Foods wouldn't talk on camera but said they check their produce for spider and insects.  In fact, he said, that's how the world's deadliest spider was found in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

 "There is an antidote for the bite of this spider. Unfortunately I don't think we have any around here," said Terry Childs with the University of Tulsa.

The spider will not stay at TU for long.  It will likely be taken to another university for research.