Mazda is recalling more than 42,000 cars due to a fuel-tank hose issue, a problem that, the company says, can be caused by a common spider.

This story is one that, at first, sounds like a joke. However, it is no laughing matter. Arachnids are fully capable weaving webs in the fuel-tank hose of certain cars, potentially blocking airflow and eventually causing the fuel tank to crack and cause a fire.

The recall affects 2010-2012 model years of the Mazda6 sedan built between September 14, 2009, and May 2, 2011, with a 2.5-liter engine. Eric Booth, Senior Manager for Public Relations for Mazda North American Operations issued a press release:

[A] certain type of spider—the yellow sac spider, to be specific—is attracted to hydrocarbons and built a web in a vent line. We installed a cover on the line that stopped the spider entering it, and did a reprogram of the ECU to change the logic behind how the car purges the charcoal canister during normal operation. Subsequent to the recall, we made a running change to install the cover on all cars at the factory, but did not apply the ECU logic change. We are now applying that logic change through a reflash of the ECU.

Booth says while the purging of the canister may cause the tank to become damaged in extreme cases if the line is blocked, there have been no fires, accidents or injuries tied to the issue. Notices about the problem will be going out later this month to customers in the United States.

Yellow sac spiders (Cheiracanthium inclusum) can be up to 10 millimeters long and, despite their name, are often also tan or yellow-green. They can have a light-brownish stripe on the top of the abdomen. The are venomous and often prey on other spiders, bugs and even their own eggs.

Their front pair of legs is longer than the back pair. Lacking catch webs typical of other spiders, they hunt at night and hide in their sacs—commonly woven where the wall meets the ceiling in a room (see photo below)—during the day. A bite from their dark-colored fangs is poisonous to human beings, causing itching and ulcerations that may be slow to heal.

Spider Sacs       Photo Credit: Kristine Bellino
Spider Sacs       Photo Credit: Kristine Bellino

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