Manitowoc school reopens after discovery of dozens of yellow sac spiders

A letter says a student and teacher were bitten, causing swelling and itching
Exterminators killed about 30 venomous yellow sac spiders at Wilson Middle School. Classes resume Monday.
Published: Dec. 9, 2022 at 11:09 AM CST|Updated: Dec. 12, 2022 at 8:20 AM CST
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MANITOWOC, Wis. (WBAY) - A Manitowoc middle school is back open Monday after the discovery of dozens of yellow sac spiders last week.

The spiders were found at Wilson Middle School, according to a letter from Principal Cory Erlandson. Classes were canceled Friday for the extermination of the arachnids. School officials said classes resumed Monday morning.

A student and spiders were bitten by the spiders.

At 2 p.m. Thursday, a student in class brushed a spider off her arm, which became itchy and swollen.

“The school nurse provided medical attention and the student’s parents were called. The student went home at the normal release time since it was close to the end of the school day,” reads a letter sent to parents.

A teacher was also bitten by a spider and needed medical attention for swelling, itching, and pain.

“Yellow sac spider bites are not lethal but they can be very painful at the outset and resemble an allergic reaction, according to the Pennsylvania State University, Department of Entomology website,” reads the letter sent to parents.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the yellow sac spider.

Valley Pest Control was called Thursday and was at the school at 6 a.m. Friday to eradicate the spiders. A news release from the school district says the crew killed close to 30 spiders.

Superintendent James Feil says he doesn’t know how the spiders got in the school but is glad the district is taking care of it so quickly.

“That’s obviously something we’d like to determine, but whether or not we can or not because we took measures to eradicate it. No, we don’t, except that we’ve not experienced this before, at least not anything like this degree where we had a number of spiders that we recognized. We had to make some immediate action,” Feil told us.

Erlandson said school is expected to resume Monday, Dec. 12.

These spiders are known to be in northern Wisconsin and they try to find ways indoors during the winter months. Normally they will hide in piles of clothes, but they were found elsewhere inside the school.

“These were areas, rooms that were near the library,” Feil said. “That’s the only thing that we know. That’s where they were focused. Could they have come in on something or whatever? Possible. We don’t know. We’d like to try to explore that.”

Feil said if any student or faculty member gets an insect bite in the future, they should say something and the district will take care of it.

”If anybody’s experiencing anything, to let us know,” the superintendent said. “We immediately sent something out to parents. It was near the end of the day, and we felt that they needed to be aware, in case one of their children seemed to have like a bite of some sort, to follow up, to let them know what to possibly suspect if in fact it was a spider bite.”

Erlandson described possible symptoms, writing, “We are not aware of any other students or staff being bitten; however, parents should be on the lookout for symptoms such as a red, inflamed, sometimes itchy or painful bump on the skin. The Mayo Clinic recommends seeking medical care if you have severe pain, abdominal cramping or a growing wound at the bite site; problems breathing or swallowing; or the area of the sore has spreading redness or red streaks.”

Michigan State University says yellow sac spiders are “active hunters.”

“Yellow sac spiders are ‘active hunters,’ searching for prey rather than capturing it within a web. It is during these nighttime forays that the spiders encounter humans and bite when they become trapped between a person’s skin and sheets, clothing, shoes, and the like,” reads research from MSU.

“The yellow sac spiders probably account for more human bites that any other type of spider.”

The superintendent says the district responded quickly after a student and teacher were bitten