The University of Michigan shut down its library after venomous spiders were found in the basements and remote areas of multiple buildings on campus, numerous sources reported.
The venomous Mediterranean recluse spiders were found in the non-public basement area of Shapiro Library in late January during a routine building check, Kim Broekhuizen, a university spokesperson, said in a Wednesday statement.
— Library Journal (@LibraryJournal) February 24, 2021
The library closed Sunday, and was treated for the spiders Monday before reopening Tuesday, according to Fox 8. But Broekhuizen says the closing was a mistake.
“A misunderstanding of the situation led the library to close for two days,” Broekhuizen said in the university’s statement. “Based on what we all know now, library managers agree that it was a mistake to close the building and they apologize for the inconvenience to the university community.”
Pest Management has been inspecting all areas where the spiders have been found and chemical pesticide treatment was applied. (RELATED: Apartment Building In Germany Evacuated After Venomous Snake Went Missing)
The Mediterranean recluse spider is a cousin to the brown recluse spider, but is even more reclusive than the brown recluse, and bites are extremely rare. “Mediterranean recluse spiders prefer basement spaces, tunnels and other hideaways where there is a decrease in foot traffic,” Anne Danielson-Francois, associate professor of biology, said in the statement.
“Users browsing the library stacks would be very unlikely to encounter a stray spider or be bitten.”
The spider is distinguished from the brown recluse by genitalia, and bites can cause different reactions, including minor irritation or tissue death, Danielson-Francois told the Detroit Free Press. Reports of deaths from spider bites are often over reported, she added, and people aren’t in “any kind of danger” unless they’re in close contact with the spider.
“But if you’re the plumber crawling through a crawl space that has a lot of these spiders, then you could be bit, and that would be concerning. But just walking around the library stacks – it’s a very, very low risk.”