Strange recall

News Release Date: 
03.05.11
Mazda gets tangled in interloper's web
Saturday, March 5, 2011 02:52 AM
By Jason Shough

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH 
 

Richard Bradley | Ohio state
The yellow sac spider is common in U.S. homes.

Forget faulty floor mats, soft brakes or broken air bags.

The latest auto-industry recall involves a spider that has probably made a home in your house.

Mazda has recalled more than 52,000 Mazda6 cars because yellow sac spiders are making their silky nests in the fuel systems.

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 The Ohio State University.

It spins a nest to sleep in during the day, then leaves to track down prey at night.

"They don't build a capture web," he said. "This is a hunting spider."

As a result, they typically choose undisturbed areas to build their sacs, including crevices in a house or beneath leaves and bark, said Susan Jones, an OSU entomologist.

"They're territorial spiders who build one sac at a time," she said. "There are typically not a lot of them clustered together."

Their preference for seclusion is likely what makes the car's fuel system so appealing to the spiders, Bradley said.

"If the place is relatively protected, it makes it more likely that they're building their cocoons there," he said. "They look for places that are protected."

Mazda dealers will have to inspect and clean the canister vent lid and install a spring to prevent the yellow sac spider from entering, according to the recall.

As of yesterday, central Ohio Mazda dealers said they had not heard from any customers concerning the recall and were awaiting additional news from the company.

Mazda6 models for the U.S. market are made in Flat Rock, Mich.

Information from the Los Angeles Times was included in this story.

jshough@dispatch.com