Spike in venomous brown recluse spider sightings reported in Michigan

Posted at 5:25 PM, Jun 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-10 11:32:52-04

It is a venomous spider that is considered by experts to be rare in Michigan, but this year there has been a spike in brown recluse spider sightings.

Howard L. Russell, an entomologist at Michigan State University says he has confirmed two brown recluse spiders in Michigan this year. They were found in Davison in Genesee County and Perry in Ingham County.

This is a significant amount, as typically there aren’t many brown recluse spider confirmations.

“Out of the 4,000 spiders I have received over the last 20 years, 8 of them have been brown recluse spiders,” said Russell.

It has some asking whether this is a fluke, or if we will see more of them? 

Russell said it is possible the mild winter gave brown recluse spiders a chance to survive in Michigan this year.   Usually they can be linked to travel, but they were found alive in an unheated garage in Davison.

Russell said people should not be concerned for their safety at this point.

“I don’t want to inspire hysteria. Most people in Michigan won't come within 100 yards of a recluse spider in their lifetime," Russell said.

Dr. Jason Talbert, a Beaumont Family Practice Doctor with an office on 12 Mile in Madison Heights, has seen what a bite from a brown recluse can do. He says about ten years ago someone came into his office with a terrible ulcer.

“I immediately thought it was a brown recluse spider bite,” said Talbert. 

He treated that patient. Soon that patient’s family members started getting the same ulcers. They eventually determined they had a brown recluse spider infestation in their house. Some of them needed surgery to repair the wounds.

Dr. Talbert says brown recluse spider bites are serious, but rare. He hasn’t seen cases since. He says if you should get bit by a spider in general, don’t panic.

“People get bit by spiders all the time and they get over it,” said Talbert.

If you are bit by a brown recluse, he says you will feel pain and see a change in skin color. If it starts turning dark, see a doctor immediately to prevent infection.