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Black Widow Spider Surprise in Manufacturing Plant

Batzner’s superior knowledge and expertise has helped to provide effective pest control for many clients who encounter out of the ordinary pest situations. Here is one such occurrence, where the ability to identify a pest and quickly come up with a creative solution was crucial in preventing a potentially dangerous situation at an international brand’s manufacturing facility.

Many manufacturing facilities bring in parts from all over the country or world, and pests from those regions occasionally tag along. In these situations, quickly and accurately identifying the pest is crucial to solving an issue before it grows into an even bigger problem. Fortunately for this client, Batzner excels at these out of the ordinary cases, and Batzner was able to swiftly recognize and deal with a pest uncommon in this area to protect the client’s employees and brand.

The Issue

During a routine service visit, the Service Specialist came across a spider that is rarely seen in Wisconsin hiding in one of the large machine products. Jason Ganas, Operations Manager, remembers receiving the Service Specialist's call from the location and being surprised. “He told me that he thought he was looking at a black widow spider. I’ve never had a black widow found in Wisconsin, so this seemed unlikely. They are mainly found in the south and don’t live here due to the temperate climate.  I asked him to bring it in so we could be sure of what we were dealing with.”

Once he saw the spider himself, Ganas confirmed that it was indeed a black widow. Due to the combined circumstances of the pest’s rarity in the area and the fact that it was hidden away inside of a machine product, Ganas found it likely that the spider had been brought in during an outside shipment. All pest issues need to be handled quickly to avoid infestations growing exponentially, but this one was particularly urgent. Black widows like to stay hidden but will attack when their webs are disturbed, and the nature of the product (which is handled by people and has many ideal web-building areas) made bites probable. While very rarely fatal to people, black widow bites can still be extremely painful and cause a number of unpleasant symptoms.

Investigation

“We’ve seen these situations before where an uncommon pest hitchhikes to a manufacturing facility, so we know how to handle them,” says Ganas, “The first step is determining the severity of the problem, because it’s possible that this was a single pest that snuck into the shipment.”

Black widows are very shy and nocturnal pests, so finding more in a large manufacturing facility was no easy task. Within a week, however, two more adults and several egg sacs had been discovered in finished products, indicating that a bigger population was present and likely arrived in a similar way as the initial spider.

With this information, we moved on to the next step of identifying where the infested products had come from and which additional products were sent in from the same location. Ganas describes, “Through communicating and working closely with the client, we found that the products that the spiders and eggs were found in had just been returned from a distribution center in Arizona, where black widows are much more common. From talking to management at the distribution center, we also learned that the total of twenty finished products they shipped back had been stored outside on pallets for an extended period of time, further supporting that the infestation started there and was brought back.”

Solution

Because the identification and investigation of the infestation had been handled so quickly, it was unlikely that any of the black widows had spread from the 20 products in which the infestation initially occurred to the other approximately 180 products stored nearby. This allowed the treatment to focus on those 20 products.

Ganas explains, “Once we had gathered all the information, the treatment plan was very straight-forward. The products had intricate machine parts that offered tons of hiding spots for egg sacs and spiders, so we decided the best course of action was to put the 20 products in a trailer and fog the trailer. This allowed the product to reach all the hidden areas and ensure the pests were exterminated.”

Results

After the treatment, no additional black widow spiders were seen in any part of the client’s facility. The treated products were able to be moved back into normal storage within an hour after the application. The client was extremely impressed at how quickly and effectively such a unique situation had been dealt with, saying that everything was handled without interrupting or interfering with their normal business operations.

Most importantly, no employee or customer had to deal with a black widow bite, which would have been likely if the population had continued to grow or if the problem had not been dealt with so quickly.