Tsk, tsk, Michigan. How wimpy.

Somebody panicked when they found a few spiders. They closed the library!

The University of Michigan’s Shapiro Undergraduate Library was temporarily closed after venomous spiders were found in the building.

Three Mediterranean recluse spiders were found in the library’s basement storage areas in late January, university spokeswoman Kim Broekhuizen said. The spiders were not in any public spaces, Broekhuizen said, and the library was closed on Sunday, Feb. 21, and Monday, Feb. 22.

That’s silly. Venomous spiders are everywhere, but they have no interest in human prey, and are generally shy and unaggressive. Relax. Call your local entomologist/arachnologist and they can scoop ’em up and relocate them or, in the worst case, euthanize them.

The university got better, though.

Broekhuizen said a misunderstanding led the library to close for two days, and based on what the university knows now, it was a mistake to close the building.


  1. bcw bcw says

    Rather than “snakes on a Plane,” “Spiders in the Library” is more likely to be a sequel to “Bambi Meets Godzilla.”

    Sorry, should have been a trigger warning for PZ on this comment.

  2. dean56 says

    In Ann Arbor the only thing more unusual than seeing venomous spiders in the library is seeing a Wolverine (athlete) in the classroom.

  3. dorght says

    Did the University of Michigan issue an apology for their ignorance and actions to all arachnids? Did they then release a sincere thank you for the amazing job the Mediterranean recluse spiders do in keeping the University’s storage area free of destructive insects, grubs, and larvae?

  4. unclefrogy says

    They might be more worried if they found silverfish instead of silverfish eaters.
    uncle frogy

  5. dudev says

    That reminds me of a day in junior high school when a teacher found a kid with a bottle rocket in his locker. She called the police and asked for the bomb squad. I didn’t know my old teacher had moved to Michigan to become a librarian.

  6. gijoel says

    When I was doing my last degree I’d get emails from admin saying I should avoid certain buildings due to snakes being spotted there. Never got one email about spiders.

  7. dangerousbeans says

    They can’t have been looking very hard if they only found two in a library basement

  8. hemidactylus says

    Getting my mom to be ok with my snake interest was an experience in itself. She didn’t know about the ‘caught in wilds’ that escaped their enclosures or the pet snake we evacuated a hurricane with in the car that was literally feet from her.

    I’m not fond of the dangerous arachnids. Killed a scorpion in the bathtub with hot water once and what appeared to be a black widow with a swatter. Leave most others alone and don’t bat an eyelash at snakes. Must say hand feeding fish to a ribbon snake was cool, but in retrospect watching my speckled king constrict and eat pinky mice may have dehumanized me a bit.

    Have recently been conducting very dirty violent wars with carpet beetles and ants. Victorious with former and went toxic with latter. “Mission accomplished”. Think my dog attracted carpet beetles with fur and dander. She definitely had an ant farming hobby with flung kibble. Noticed a spider webbed out near her food bowl well away from the chemical war zone and left it alone. Allies.

    BTW given my experience with carpet beetles I wonder if anyone uses them as a model organism for biology. They seem prolific and dumb as a rock. Easy to catch even though they fly. Check ceilings and floors. They seem to have some subtle color pattern variations.

  9. says

    The spiders were probably doing a good job of keeping down the resident cockroach population and dealing with the other insect nasties that like to eat books. They would faint at my institution. The student residences have plenty of dark, quiet, place which are ideal habitat for Cobras to lay their eggs. Every year come hatching time the students dance the Cobra two-step.

  10. Colin J says

    Most spiders are venomous but very few are dangerous to humans.

    You should try living where I am. The Sydney funnel-web spider has venom that’s far more toxic to primates than it is to the spider’s actual prey.
    They don’t eat people, they just like to mess with us.

  11. llyris says

    Pfft! Do I get to close my laundry and refuse to do any washing every time I find a redback in it?