Venomous brown recluse spider found in 10 Michigan counties: What to know

Spiders likely hitch rides from other states

Brown recluse spiders are not typically found in Michigan, but a number of them have popped up in the state this year.

According to Michigan State University's Department of Entomology's Howard Russell, Brown recluse spiders have been found in at least 10 Michigan counties:

  • Hillsdale
  • Ingham
  • Kent (The Kent County find came from a home in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where the residents had just returned from a trip to Missouri, where the spider is common. Recluse spiders are known to hitchhike in boxes, suitcases and articles of commerce.)
  • Lenawee
  • Livingston
  • Oakland
  • Shiawassee
  • Washtenaw
  • Wayne

Russell wrote in a blog on MSU Extension that many people send in photos of what they think are brown recluse spiders, but many turn out to be other spiders. Two recently reported brown recluse bites -- one in Lelanau County and one Ottawa County -- did not recover the actual spiders, so don't make the map of confirmed sightings.

"In the past 14 months, over 700 Michiganders have sent me photographs of spiders thought to be recluse spiders they had encountered in their homes and yards. Some people just sent stories about bites thought to be recluse bites. Some of these stories were profoundly heart-wrenching," Russell posted. "Of these 700 spider photos, only seven turned out to be of brown recluse spiders."

Related: Brown recluse spiders in Michigan: Pest control company offers $300 reward for evidence

Russell says none of the spiders found walked here - they hitched a ride.

"So what does this all mean? It means there are rare, isolated populations of brown recluse spiders living in Michigan. It means that the vast majority of Michiganders will never come within a half-mile of a brown recluse spider. None of the brown recluse spiders that have been found in Michigan walked here from Arkansas or even southern Ohio for that matter; they were brought or carried here in suitcases, boxes or some other cartage."

Read more on MSU Extension.

What to know about brown recluse spiders (Via Pest World)

Habits

Brown recluse spiders are nocturnal and eat other small bugs like cockroaches and crickets. These spiders spin irregular webs, which are not used for catching prey but rather as a retreat.

Habitat

Brown recluse spiders often live outdoors where they are typically found around rocks, utility boxes and woodpiles. Indoors, brown recluses can be found in any undisturbed area, such as inside boxes, among papers, in seldom-used apparel and shoes, under furniture or in crevices of window moldings. Closets, attics, crawl spaces and basements are the most common brown recluse spider hiding spots.

Threats

Like the black widow spider, the brown recluse spider bites in defense and does not bite humans instinctively. However, both female and male brown recluse spiders can bite and inject venom. The brown recluse’s bite is usually not felt, but results in a stinging sensation followed by intense pain as long as six to eight hours later. A small blister usually develops at the bite location that can turn into an open ulcer. Restlessness, fever and difficulty sleeping are common symptoms of a brown recluse spider bite.

Brown Recluse Spider Prevention

To avoid brown recluse spiders, do not leaving clothing on the floor. Store clothing and shoes inside plastic containers, and shake out all clothing that has been in a hamper before wearing or washing. To get rid of brown recluse spiders, contact a pest professional with brown recluse spider control experience.

Related: Michigan's stink bug season could be worse than last year, experts say

Spider specs

Color: Light to dark brown, with characteristic dark brown violin marking on back

Legs: 8

Shape: Round

Size: ¼ - ½ inch long

Antennae: No

Region: Found in the south central Midwest from Ohio to Nebraska and south through Texas to Georgia

Map of Michigan brown recluse spider reports

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