L. variolus in Minnesota?


Mar 26, 2011
Long time browser, first time poster.

I'm turning 18 next month and I'm planning on taking a roadtrip around my old hometown of Cologne, MN to do some house hunting later this year. From what I've seen, L. variolus is known to occur in extreme southeastern Minnesota, though I'm sure they're very scarce. I'm wondering if it would be worth it to look around in Minnesota for some of them? I recall seeing glossy black spiders in my childhood, but I moved away to northern MN when I was six, so I'm almost surely mistaken on the identification, be it because of my young age or because of manufactured memories. There were plenty of garter snakes and other animals that we never see around here. I swear that northern and southern Minnesota are almost like separate states. I never see any interesting spiders around here with our -30 degree winters, and I'm lucky if I see 5 spiders in the house per summer. The only interesting animals around here are the occasional cougar and maybe a bear or two. I'll also be going through Wisconsin and Michigan if there are any locals that would know where I should search. Also; are they such a small occurence in these states that I'd be better of just buying one? I know that there are a lot of grassy, rocky, more humid areas in the southern parts of the states, so I could think of a few areas to look. I'm sure that I'll turn up nothing, after all, we have Crotalus horridus in MN, and you never really see them... But I'd really like to search for some L. variolus anyways, so any pointers are appreciated!

I've been interested for a number of years now, and I'm especially curious after some Widows arrived with produce at a supermarket my mother worked in at the time. Apparentally this had happened on a few occasions, twice before she worked there which I don't know the details of, once a female showed up in the deli, and another time a male and female shipped in with some grapes. I got to see the spiders in the last incident, but they were up high on a shelf in a small container, so I couldn't be sure of the identification... I'm guessing the grapes shipped in from California, so it was likely L. hesperus. A local science teacher was supposed to pick them up, but he didn't show for a week and I'm under the impression that the spiders were destroyed.

I've read up a great deal on keeping these over the last few years, and I'm a very responsible person who considers himself to be quite educated and careful, so I don't see myself getting tagged while searching or raising a widow. I've never considered getting one until now, as my family has always had cats and dogs, and I didn't want to bear the responsibility in the small chance that my spider would escape and possibly bite a pet or family member. I've always felt that I could handle one, I've been in many situations that show that I'm good under pressure: breaking up various dog fights, helping out in medical emergencies, etc. This, of course, is like comparing apples to oranges, but I like to think that it counts for something.

Sorry to bore you with all of these details, but I felt like sharing some of my experiences as I've found that people generally get better answers on here if they provide some background and show good intentions.

Short version:
1. Going through Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan... Where would be my best bet to find L. variolus?

2. Local supermarket has had a few incidences of widows shipping in with produce, is this rare considering I'm in a smaller town of about 2,000?

3. Despite my relatively young age, I consider myself well researched on widows, and would be keeping this for my own sake, not as a "showoff" pet.

Thanks in advance,

Edit: When I talk about "handling" a Latro, I'm speaking in terms of being able to care for one, not handling in the sense that often causes controversy with hots.
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