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Black widow spiders aren't common in Alberta but sometimes they appear in odd places.

Black widow spider found in Alberta

Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Wednesday, November 4, 2015, 4:55 PM - According to the Government of Canada, black widow spiders are rare in Canada, but they can be found in southern regions along the Canada-U.S. border -- and in Devon, Alberta, apparently.

Bicycle shop owner and Devon resident Judy Hartlon got a scare on Halloween when she found a black widow spider stowed away in a box delivered from Utah some 2,000 km away, the CBC reports.

"I pulled out the front wheel of the bike, and it was covered in cobwebs. So I proceeded to take the cobwebs off, not thinking too much about what was coming up next," Hartlon told the CBC.

"I pulled the second layer of foam out of the box and almost put my thumb on the spider, and that's when it jumped onto the next layer of foam, and I jumped out of the part room."

Hartlon's daughter was able to trap the spider inside a jar, where it lived for five days.

Now the spider, which the Hartlons named Malaise, has found a new home at the Alberta Royal Museum in the bug room.

"I had a hard time letting go; I was getting quite attached to the little lady . . . . It ended up being a real happy ending," Hartlon said.

Black widow spiders are best identified by a distinct red hourglass mark on the underside of their stomachs.

"It spins a small, silk web close to the ground and is found in secluded places like garages and sheds, or under rocks or fallen trees when outside," The Government of Canada writes on its website.

"It is not aggressive and prefers fleeing when disturbed, so it will only bite to defend itself ... If you are concerned about the potential presence of black widow spiders, be careful when working around spider webs in secluded areas, and wear protective gloves if needed."

While bites from black widow spiders aren't usually fatal, symptoms can persist for several weeks and include severe muscle pain, abdominal cramps and muscle spasms.

Some people who are bitten by the spider experience no symptoms at all.

Source: CBC

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