7 min read

Man Finds Spider Living On Broccoli And Does The Sweetest Thing For Her

“Most people might say, ‘It’s just a spider. Squish it and move on.’ But she’s so much more than that.”

Earlier this week, Ohio resident Jacob Vaughn was rinsing off some broccoli he’d just bought at the grocery store when he noticed something black sitting on top of one of the stalks.

It was a spider — but not just any spider.

She was a venomous black widow, with red markings on her back and all.

black widow broccoli
Jacob Vaugh

“The spider came out and started waving its hands,” Vaughn told WTOL. “[She] did not seem pleased.”

Thinking fast, Vaughn carefully plucked the spider from the broccoli with a pair of tongs and placed her in a bag. He then got in touch with Cheryl Garcia, of Another Chance Sanctuary, who knew right away that she needed to take in the little spider.

“She looked so frantic,” Garcia told The Dodo. “How she managed to survive all the steps that broccoli had to go through before getting to the store is a surprise in itself.”

A friend of Garcia’s was able to transport the spider, then nicknamed Broccoli, to the rescue. Because black widows are a non-native species in Ohio, releasing her outside was not an option. Luckily, Garcia is very well-versed in spider care, having rescued and adopted out many in the past.

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The spider sitting on top of the broccoli | Jacob Vaughn

“I’ve always had a soft spot for the animals other people might not really care to save,” Garcia said. “Most people might say, ‘It’s just a spider. Squish it and move on.’ But she’s so much more than that.”

While no one knows for sure where Broccoli had hopped onto the vegetable, it was clear the long trip had taken a toll on her. Her abdomen was thin and deflated, and she seemed lethargic.

“She was extremely hungry,” Garcia said. “They’re supposed to have that classic big abdomen with the hourglass marking, but she was so skinny you could barely see it.”

Garcia set up a terrarium for Broccoli, complete with some moist substrate, some long twigs to climb on and a small cave for her to hide in. By the next morning, the little spider had made amazing progress.

“As soon as she realized she wasn’t in danger, she was doing great,” Garcia said. “She’d already started building a web, and as soon as we offered her some fruit flies, she ate them immediately.”

Although black widows are usually very shy, Broccoli seems naturally adventurous, spending a lot of time outside of her cave.

While black widow bites can be painful, black widows aren’t as fatal as people think they are. Human deaths from being bitten by a black widow are actually extremely rare — and in many cases, the spiders don’t even emit venom. They have the power to control whether a bite administers it, so unless they feel threatened, they usually won’t bother you.

“It takes a lot for them to actually make venom, so they use it very wisely,” Garcia said. “You literally almost have to squish them for them to release it. They don’t just go around biting people for fun. They’d much rather use their energy to eat.”

spider broccoli ohio
A close-up of Broccoli after being brought to the rescue | Cheryl Garcia

Seeing how feeble Broccoli had been the day before, it was a sigh of relief for Garcia to see her doing so well. Once Garcia posted about the spider on social media, she heard from a very sweet woman who was interested in adopting her.

“She’s very experienced with arachnids and sadly lost her pet black widow recently,” Garcia said. “She has a great setup, and is well aware of Broccoli’s needs so she can live happy and healthy.”

In a few weeks, Garcia will have to say goodbye to Broccoli as she goes to her new home. But she’s so glad the little traveling spider made it into her life — and has helped to educate more people about who these arachnids really are.

black widow spider pet
Broccoli hanging out in her terrarium | Cheryl Garcia

“Spiders are not for everyone — but a lot of people have told me, ‘Wow, I guess she isn’t the vicious killer I thought she was!'” Garcia said. “I’m so thrilled she’s found a home with a qualified owner who will really appreciate her. It’s what she deserves.”

To help more animals like Broccoli find their forever homes, you can make a donation to Another Chance Sanctuary.