Michigan Library Where Venomous Mediterranean Recluse Spiders Found Reopens

A university library has reopened after closing temporarily due to a poisonous spider scare.

In January, a routine pest management check uncovered three Mediterranean recluse spiders in the Shapiro Undergraduate Library at the University of Michigan.

Pest management staff spotted the spiders—which are native to the Mediterranean region but found all over the world—in a basement storage area that is not open to the public.

An email sent to library staff on Monday notified them of the discovery, The Michigan Daily reported. And on Monday, the library announced via Twitter that it was closed for an "emergency maintenance issue."

University spokesperson Kim Broekhuizen said managers closed the library out of an abundance of caution and due to a "misunderstanding of the situation." The facility reopened on Tuesday.

"A misunderstanding of the situation led the library to close," Broekhuizen told the college paper, the University Record.

"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."

Broekhuizen told Newsweek that there was a misunderstanding on "when the spiders were found" and the library took their action "out of caution" until they could learn more from the pest management team.

Pest management treated the areas of the building where the spiders were found, and no more sightings have been reported since.

A spider expert at the university, Anne Danielson-Francois, identified the arachnids found in the library as Mediterranean recluse spiders.

"As the name implies, they are reclusive and bites are extremely rare," Danielson-Francois told the Record. "Mediterranean recluse spiders prefer basement spaces, tunnels and other hideaways where there is a decrease in foot traffic.

"Users browsing the library stacks would be very unlikely to encounter a stray spider or be bitten."

Mediterranean recluse spiders have also recently been identified in the basements and remote areas of several other buildings on the university's Ann Arbor campus.

According to Broekhuizen, it is thought the spiders entered university buildings through underground tunnels, at a time of decreased occupancy.

Pest management has been conducting weekly inspections of buildings and tunnels where the spiders have been spotted. Officials are continuing to monitor these buildings and treat them with pesticides.

Even though bites from these spiders are extremely rare, the university issued safety precautions for individuals working in basement areas, including wearing a long-sleeved shirt, hat, gloves, and boots or shoes which enclose the entire foot, when handling stored items, cardboard boxes, lumber or rocks.

In rare cases, the bite of a Mediterranean recluse spider can lead to a condition called loxoscelism that is characterized by skin lesions.

A Mediterranean recluse spider
Stock image showing a Mediterranean recluse spider. iStock