Poisonous spiders are taking advantage of the pandemic and moving into college buildings

A venomous spider, usually staying away from populated areas, recently showed up in buildings on the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus, likely due to pandemic vacancies, according to news reports.

Known as the Mediterranean recluse spider (Loxosceles rufescens), the species has appeared in “basements and remote areas of several Ann Arbor campus buildings” due to lower building occupancy, the university said in a statement on Feb.23. University library found, causing staff to close the library for two days.

The Mediterranean recluse spider is related to the poisonous brown recluse spider (Loxosceles reclusa), but it is even more withdrawn.

“As the name suggests, they are withdrawn and bites are extremely rare,” Anne Danielson-Francois, an associate professor of biology at the University of Michigan, said in the statement. “It is very unlikely that users browsing the library stacks would encounter a stray spider or be bitten.”

The university is now saying that the library closure was not justified because the spiders pose such a low risk to humans.

“A misunderstanding of the situation resulted in the library being closed for two days,” Kim Broekhuizen, a university spokesman, said in the statement. “From what we all now know, the library managers agree that closing the building was a mistake and they apologize for the inconvenience to the university community.”

On the rare occasion that this species bites a person, these bites can lead to necrosis (tissue death), according to The New York Times.

The university is conducting weekly checks on spiders first found there in January and treating areas with pesticides where the spiders will be identified.

The news is another example of animals showing up in unusual places when people stay home during the coronavirus pandemic. There were a number of strange animal sightings during last year’s lockdowns, including coyotes on the streets of San Francisco and deer on the streets of Japan, the Times reported.

Originally published on Live Science.

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