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Spiders in Cars

October 30, 2013

Spiders in air conditioners have prompted a recall of over 800,000 Toyota vehicles.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Little spiders, big car trouble. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Spiders have set up shop in the air conditioners of some Toyota vehicles. (Wikipedia)

Toyota recently recalled over 800,000 vehicles because their air bags could deploy unexpectedly. The reason? Spiders spinning webs inside the car’s air conditioning drainage tubes, causing water to back up and spill onto critical circuits. Michael Miller is animal keeper at the National Zoo in Washington, and takes care of their spiders. He says the ones causing mischief in the Toyotas probably weren’t hunting for prey: spiders also use their webs to build little shelters called hibernacula.

MICHAEL MILLER (Smithsonian National Zoo):

So if they can get into a small place like that where they feel secure and comfortable, then, sure, they’re gonna do it. And those would just be using the tubes as shelter and then they’ll emerge to forage and things like that.

HIRSHON:

Cooling weather spurs the little spiders to spin their cozy shelters, right when the air conditioning tubes are unused, safe and dry. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.