The latest auto-industry recall involves a spider that has probably made a home in your house. Japanese car maker Mazda is recalling more than 50,000 Mazda6 cars in US after finding spider web in the vents. The recall also affects another 15,000 vehicle in Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico.
“For those of us in the Southwest, the big problem inside our cars is a real desert denizen — spiders,” Mary Manning, a former senior reporter at the Las Vegas Sun, told me. Encountering a large, hairy spider in your car while on the road can be a real traffic hazard, to put it mildly. Manning found a huntsman (a spider the size of a half dollar) in her car on an afternoon drive around Las Vegas. It crawled on her husband’s hand before she was able to knock it off with a pillow and usher it outside.
Twenty cases have been documented. The nests could cause pressurization problems that lead to cracks, gas leaks and fire, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The spider, which is about the size of a nickel and quite common in American houses, is a nocturnal hunter, said Richard Bradley, an entomologist and spider expert at Ohio State University.
According to an Ohio State University report, the spider is mildly venomous, causing a reaction similar to a mosquito bite, but can be more dangerous to some individuals. As with bee venom, some might experience “general systemic reactions that include fever, malaise, stomach cramps and nausea” and, in extreme cases, an ulcerated lesion that takes weeks to heal, the university said.
Under the recall, dealers will inspect the vent pipes for spider webs and will install a spring that keeps the critters out. Entomologists are amused but not surprised by the yellow sac spiders’ starring role in a big recall.