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Could Recent Brown Recluse Discoveries Point to a Michigan Population?

brown recluse
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More and more brown recluses are being found in Michigan.

Here’s some comforting news for Michigan residents. More and more highly venomous brown recluse spiders are being found in the Great Lakes State. In fact, recent bites and discoveries are having some experts wondering if it might be an expansion of their natural range.

Previously, it was thought Michigan got too cold for the spiders to survive. But two were discovered in a Davison garage last month. And apparently, they survived there through the mild winter!

The two Davison spiders make for six confirmed cases since 2011 according to the Detroit Free Press. Michigan State University entomologist Howard Russell isn’t sure if the spiders are part of a real Michigan population, or simply wayward arachnids that hitched a very long ride.

It’s worth noting the garage from the latest spider discovery didn’t store anything from the arachnid’s usual ranges southern Ohio to the Gulf of Mexico.

There have been a couple bites. One, from 2014, killed a 58-year-old woman in Osceloa County in 2014. Another bite happened this year to a Jackson County truck driver. Although it seems the driver, 58-year-old Gaylord Brooks, might have picked up the spiders during his work running to more southern states. He never actually felt the two bites that put him in a hospital for five surgeries over six weeks.

It seems Brooks’ bite was one of the worst-case scenarios for a brown recluse bite.

“Ninety percent of recluse bites do virtually nothing and heal by themselves,” retired California-Riverside research associate Richard Vetter told the Detroit Free Press. “Ten percent of the time, it can develop necrosis.”

The one bit of good news for Michigan residents is the brown recluse isn’t a species known for spreading far and wide. “If you get them in a garage, and the house is 25 feet away, you’re probably never going to get them in your house,” Russel said.

Still, it probably won’t hurt to keep a little extra vigilance if you’re sweeping out your garage for spring cleaning anytime soon!

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Could Recent Brown Recluse Discoveries Point to a Michigan Population?