Several large spider species can be found within Maine households. Some of these spiders include wolf spiders, yellow-sac spiders, false black widow spiders and ground spiders. While many residents of Maine may believe that they have spotted black widow specimens in the state, not one of America’s three black widow species are native to Maine. It is not uncommon for people to confuse the false black widows with true black widows, as false black widows are abundant in Maine and they closely resemble their black widow relatives. The climate in Maine is far too cold to allow for the survival of black widows, but experts claim that black widows may be spotted on rare occasions in Maine, as specimens are often transported into the state within food and plant shipments from California and other southern regions. Unfortunately, this occurs far more frequently than many Maine residents realize. According to Don Barry, an entomologist with the University of Maine, around half a dozen black widows are brought into his office from grocery stores each year.

Almost all of the black widows that Dr. Barry examines in his Maine office are western black widows that were found within shipments of grapes from California. While Dr. Barry says that he has never personally found a black widow in the wild in Maine, he did claim that a wild black widow specimen was found in a bait trap behind a Newport K-Mart back in 2010, but this species was deemed a hitchhiker. While black widows are not native to Maine, Dr. Barry states that black widows could become established in the state at some point in the future as a result of warming temperatures in the northeast. During the summer of 2017, an Old Orchard Beach woman found a black widow in her store-bought grapes. This find made the news in Maine after the specimen was confirmed to be a black widow by officials with the Maine Forest Service.

Have you ever found a spider or insect within your store-bought produce items?