The Oct. 13 issue of the Etownian concerning the Brown Recluse spider resulted in considerable concern among students, staff and parents. Since nobody in Facilities Management had a chance to see the actual spider, it was never identified. However, after 10 minutes on the Internet, I located the photo used in the Etownian and found it to be identical to a stock photo that can be found at this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Brown-recluse-2-edit.jpg#filehistory.
Since nobody but the student saw the spider, I can’t question the veracity of the student identification of the spider as a Brown Recluse. However, some spiders that are native to our area, like the Cellar Spider can easily be mistaken for the Brown Recluse.
Brown Recluse spiders are not indigenous to this area, so if one is ever present in any of our residence halls, it was most likely introduced by a student in their belongings. Our students travel all over the world, so picking up a “hitchhiking” spider is possible.
We are currently in a seasonal transition, when evening and daytime temperatures begin to drop, compelling insects to seek shelter in dwellings. The most common spiders we encounter in our dwellings are the Broad Faced Sac Spider, Long-legged Sac Spider, Longbodied Cellar Spider, Bold Jumper, Common House Spider and the Wolf Spider. The Wolf Spider is very common in this area and can grow to a formidable size. As such, it is the spider most apt to frighten those who encounter it. While it can bite, usually the bite is an annoyance. In some cases bites may become infected with swelling, redness and tenderness. If this occurs you should contact College Student Health. Several spiders have been brought to Facilities Management and most of them are Wolf Spiders.
Spiders just want to be left alone, and when we cross paths with them by accident they run and seek shelter. Like us, they have an inherent drive to survive, and if cornered, they may respond by biting. Spiders kill and eat other insects, many of which can be disease carriers, and, by doing this, they provide a valuable service. When someone is bitten by a spider it is usually a circumstance when we accidently come into contact with the spider and it bites in defense. You may see a spider in the hallway or your room, it’s not there to look for someone to bite, and will run and hide if given a chance.
Once winter sets in, the cold will kill any insects that don’t make it underground or into buildings. Thus, we will still have some insects, including spiders, overwintering in the cozy confines of our buildings.
If you see a spider in your room and you are uncomfortable dealing with it, we have insecticides at Facilities Management so give us a call. Facilities Management has Ehrlich Extermination under contract to carry out Integrated Pest Management (IMP) in our buildings to keep the numbers of insects down, but these treatments will never totally eradicate all insects from the campus.
Spiders have been around a lot longer than mankind. Spiders are a fact of life, are not aggressive and when given a chance will run from you. However, if you would like Facilities Management to deal with a spider, just let us know and we will be happy to respond.