A new Ford invention aims to keep spiders from nesting inside vehicles, which can be a real problem. Spiders can build dense webs that can block fuel vapor lines, which can crack them and potentially cause fires. To fight the creepy crawlers, Ford’s come up with an updated “spider screen” which it will install on its vehicles globally starting with the 2016 Focus RS.
So what spiders in particular are the problem, you ask? Well, it’s those of the pesky Cheiracanthium mildei and Cheiracanthium inclusum variety– more commonly referred to as yellow sac spiders. Instead of using webs to catch prey, these spiders build cocoon-like webs for shelter and to lay eggs. Their home is dense enough to potentially block fuel vapor lines, which can lead to engine damage and diminished vehicle performance. The issue’s prompted recalls from Mazda and Toyota in recent years.
David Gimby, a Ford fuel systems engineer, started looking into how to keep spiders out of Ford vehicles back in 1999. Having no background in arachnology, he researched the life and science of spiders and in 2004 Ford produced its first spider screen, which has kept spiders from nesting inside Ford vehicles for years.
“These particular Arachnids are not sedentary – they are hunters and constantly roaming,” Gimby explained. “When it’s time to build a birthing cocoon or an over-winter cocoon, they seek a cavity or a depression, like a fuel vapor line opening, which allows them to maximize the use of their silk.”
“Spiders can be a nuisance for our vehicle owners,” said Gimby. “We studied these species to discern how they nest, then designed an effective device for excluding the larger, problematic spiders from nesting in our cars.”
Since launching its first spider screen, Ford engineers have worked on this new and improved version that will soon be rolled out along its lineup.
Keeping fuel vapor lines clear is key to air and vapor circulation for a vehicle’s carbon canister, where fuel vapors are captured so they don’t enter the environment. The Ford-developed spider screen keeps spiders out of the line, but allows air and vapor flow for optimal vehicle operation.
“We are constantly improving and adapting, even when it comes to technologies that are already working,” said William Euliss, Ford fuel systems engineer. “There is a significant amount of engineering that goes into every detail of our vehicles, like the spider screen.”
So sorry spiders, you’ll have to find a new home.