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Michigan Spiders Apologizes

It is the complete intentions of Michigan Spiders to be a source of good information that can be trusted, to help others learn about spiders with the belief that fear is trumped by knowledge. Recently, someone pointed out to me that I have done something that can be very counter productive to the latter.

You see, the one spider that is most feared in Michigan is the Brown Recluse. Even though the Brown Recluse is not indigenous to Michigan, and it is actually a rare case one is found, it is still the most feared spider.

The problem is, the recluse does not like to spread about like most spiders. A colony can start in a house (down south of course), and it can thrive for years and the house next door will likely never see one. When it establishes itself, it stays there. When eggs hatch, they stay in that vicinity. But they like to make their homes in boxes and things and when a family packs up and moves, they often take a few of the spiders with them. In most cases, the spiders they take with them are either male or a female that has not mated recently. So sometimes a rogue Brown Recluse is found in a state where they are not indigenous. On a very rare case, a female Recluse will be transported, lay eggs and a small colony will develop in a state where they are supposed to be.

Now keep in mind that even though a small colony might develop in a state where they dont belong, this does not mean they are becoming indigenous to that state. Remember, they are extremely reclusive and do not spread from their habitat unless something forces them to move. So instead of spreading through that state and becoming native to that state, they stay in the one building they are in and wait to be found and exterminated. If they establish a small colony in a tree or barn, and it is a cold weather state, they die during the winter.

Here in Michigan, most people believe they are indigenous to the state. When I tried to explain that they are not here, I had numerous debates, in comments and in emails, with people insisting they are here. Everyone seems to know someone who was bit by a recluse because their doctor diagnosed them with a Brown Recluse bite. Even though the spider was never seen, identified, or caught. Even though it is actually impossible for a doctor to identify a recluse bite by the wound alone. There are no tests that can positively identify a recluse bite. So when one Brown Recluse is discovered here in Michigan, there will be people who will use that as absolute proof that they do exist in Michigan. Imagine what it must mean then, when a small colony is discovered.

I will admit that something like this happened last year where a woman's house was found to have a small colony. Then less than a year later, a gentleman found a rogue recluse spider in his home. He gets a lot of packages from out of state and since he has not found any others, it is simple to figure out his spider was transported into the state. I was writing articles in Michigan Spiders about these sightings. Giving details on what cities they were discovered and such, thinking I was just writing an interesting news story about such an infamous spider being found here. What I did not consider was how these articles would be taken.

Some, maybe even most, would read these articles for what I meant them to be. An interesting story. However, whether I like it or not, too many would read these articles and their minds would wrap around one simple fact. The dreaded Brown Recluse is being found in Michigan! It wouldn't matter that these two cases are only two of the possibly five or six sightings ever actually identified here in Michigan, or that the reputation of the Brown Recluse makes the spider far more dangerous than it really is. Their minds would read those points, but their fears would push those facts aside and focus on the simple fact that the dreaded Brown Recluse was sighted in Michigan.

So articles meant to be news worthy and harmless, against my better intentions, would do just the opposite of what I want Michigan Spiders to be about. Those articles would cause fear and promote the myth of the Brown Recluse being in Michigan. Because this was pointed out to me, and by someone I have utmost respect for, I had to step back and consider whether it was good to have those articles on Michigan Spiders or not. In the end, I decided that it would make very little difference for people to know the spider was sighted in Michigan, but could be a launching pad for more fear and missinformation, so I have removed those articles from my site.

I apologize to those who were interested in the sightings, and to those who may have been effected by the sightings. Rest assured that if enough sightings happened within a span of time to make me believe there was even a chance that the Brown Recluse was becoming indigenous, I would be more for warning people than calming fears. But right now that is not the case. If you made it your mission to find a Brown Recluse in Michigan, the odds would be very high that you will die of old age and never see one. So because the odds of ever seeing one are so slim, I cannot in good faith, leave articles that will have the ability to cause fear and add to a myth for no good reason.