Have you ever found hitchhiking animals in produce, houseplants, timber etc

Have you ever found any hitchhiking organisms in produce, houseplants, timber etc. I sometimes find things like small bugs, hoverfly larvae, caterpillars and other inverts hiding away in various fruit and veg that gets purchased and wondered if anyone else has had similar experiences. I have seen a few observations where people have spotted even crazier stuff like tropical roaches, geckos, crickets, spiders, isopods and others by having a search through produce bags, houseplants and various other imports. IMO it’s a great way to add species to your lifelist that may be non native to your area and can be a good source of research as to which species could potentially establish in future years ( like palm moths in the UK arriving in imported palm trees and the plague of box moths that fly all over Europe and parts of North America). hopefully i can do a few sneaky searches in the outdoor section of a few garden centers and food markets next year to scout for any well concealed imports.


I work in a produce department in Massachusetts. I’ve been Inatting for a little over a year, and my grocery store finds aren’t organized, but I’ve logged a few interesting ones this year. My favorite is a Three-banded Lady Beetle.
A lot of organisms I find do occur locally, so it’s hard to tell if they’ve really been trucked in. And no, I never find big spiders in the bananas, but I have found several spiders in bags of grapes, including Black Widows, but not recently.


I found this and several other caterpillars when shucking corn. For some reason, I never added the other pictures of the caterpillar and I have no idea where the pictures are now. I think my goal in the picture I did add was to get a good shot of the face which would explain why I let everything else go out of focus

Same thing happened to me!



There’s a project for such observations: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/invisible-travelers-hitchhiking-animals

And there was a forum thread a while back talking about garden centers as a good place to find interesting arthropods, particularly during the time of year when it may be difficult to find stuff outdoors. (Inspired by the thread, I did eventually manage to find an Uloborus plumipes – for which I see someone has added the common name of “garden centre spider” – though I ended up sneaking photos with my cell phone as I didn’t have the courage to pull out my camera at the store.)

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Thanks for letting me know about this project, added a few of mine to it and should hopefully find more hitchhikers in 2024. Currently the most interesting one I have spotted is a ( presumably) Remaudiereana annulipes https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/469902) found in some Raspberries from Spain which is currently an unrecorded species from the UK though it will likely never start a population since there was only one and it was released into my garden.

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