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Brown recluse infestation found at Franklin County school

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MERCERSBURG, Pa. – The Tuscarora School District has had to call in exterminators after discovering small pests in parts of an elementary school.

Montgomery Elementary School is in a race against time to eradicate the brown recluse spiders found in the kitchen, the library and other isolated areas of the school away from classrooms.

“They prepared for it, they created a plan and now they're activating that plan,” Ryan Bridge, commonly known as “The Bug Man” for his educational programs on insects for the public, said. “I think they're doing it right; I just hope they get it done.”

The brown recluse is small, roughly the size of a fingernail. It is also not native to Pennsylvania. They are mostly found in the Midwest and western U.S., and that's why there's little concern for additional sightings here.

“We're not talking about tarantula-sized predators hunting people. We're not talking about barns filled with spiders,” Bridge said. “We're talking about a small spider that can be a problem to people than come into contact with it accidentally.”

A bite from a brown recluse can cause problems in some people like skin irritation or swelling. If left unchecked, bites can cause skin ulcers, but experts say the best course of action is to leave it alone if you see one.

“Brown recluse are not deadly; they're venomous,” Bridge said. “They're just a predator that needs to eat, and they use that venom in order to feed, and yeah, they'll use it to defend themselves.”

School is not supposed to start at Montgomery Elementary until August 24th, but school officials have said they're not going to open the building until they're confident that the problem has been eradicated.