HALIFAX - A Halifax-based weatherman says he got more than he bargained for during a recent Costco trip — a live scorpion in his bag of bananas.
Nathan Coleman, a reporter for The Weather Network, says he was unloading groceries on Friday when his 11-year-old daughter spotted something squirming in a plastic bag.
Coleman says he dismissed the rustling until his mother put the bananas away and saw the scorpion.
"It was as scary as it was shocking," Coleman said in an interview. "It's just such a strange bug."
He says he double-bagged the scorpion and drove to the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, where it was placed in alcohol and kept alongside other creatures who've arrived from tropical locations.
Andrew Hebda, the museum's zoologist, said it's the first such arrival he knows of where the museum has received a specimen from a banana shipment, but other scorpions have come into the province in fruit.
He said it is likely that a few of the potentially dangerous arachnid arrive in the city each year.
"We call them hitchhikers ... everything from snakes to frogs to spiders," he said.
Hebda said so far he's been able to classify the migrant from Guatemala as belonging to the general class of Buthids, a large family of scorpions which have a fat tail.
Though the chances are slim the average fruit shopper will run into similar creatures, the zoologist nonetheless suggests people take a moment to run their produce under a tap.
"If you get fruit from tropical areas, wash it off, as it can take off any insects and generally puts them into cold shock," he said.
Hebda said the scorpion delivered to the museum was capable of delivering a fairly nasty sting, though he doesn't think it would be lethal.
"Most of these invertebrates are quite shy and tend to avoid the big, hairy, screamy things like us," he added.
Hebda said "on the positive side," the arrival of the occasional scorpion is a sign of fewer chemicals being used on the fruit — in the past, heavy use of pesticides would have eliminated most unwanted visitors.
Hebda said he has a number of dead scorpions in his collection delivered by citizens over the years.
A spokesman for Costco says the chain is looking into the matter.
"We are aware of the incident and are investigating," wrote Ron Damiani, a spokesman for Costco, in an email.
Coleman says a warehouse manager has apologized to him, but he thinks the product should be pulled from the shelves.
"I think it would be funnier if I was younger ... but I have kids and having that (scorpion) in such close proximity, we were lucky."
A video posted on The Weather Network website — which has been viewed more than 114,000 times — shows Coleman on his deck holding up a plastic bag, the squirming palm-sized scorpion inside.
"It's actually very surreal," he said. "I cover all of Atlantic Canada, but I didn't have to go very far to find this story. It was right in my kitchen."