For most people, the brown recluse spider is the stuff of nightmares. They are not very aggressive – but they move very fast. The bite of a brown recluse spider can cause nausea, fever, convulsions, and even necrosis of the tissue (i.e. death of living cells) leaving a gaping, ulcer-like wound that can expand to surrounding tissue leaving scarring so deep, only surgical skin grafts can repair the horrific damage. For the Trost family, the nightmare became real when 6,000 brown recluse spiders began falling from the ceiling and “bleeding out of the walls” of their Missouri home.
Brian and Susan Trost purchased their dream home in Whitmoor Country Club (just outside Dardenne Prairie, Missouri) in October 2007. Soon after moving in, they began noticing spiders throughout the home – clinging to the walls, on the furniture, and especially in the atrium that lead to their basement. According to local news accounts:
“Susan Trost saw spiders and their webs every day. They were in the mini blinds, the air registers, the pantry ceiling, the fireplace. Their exoskeletons were falling from the can lights. Once when she was showering, she dodged a spider as it fell from the ceiling and washed down the drain.”
A call to an extermination company revealed the culprit to be the dreaded brown recluse spider. Unfortunately, the pest control company was unable to rectify the problem. A second exterminator was called and realized similar disappointing results (the brown recluse is difficult to poison because their perched legs allow them to walk safely over pesticides).
The Trost family next contacted Dr. Jamel Sandidge, who is considered one of the leading brown recluse spider researchers in the nation. He pointedly told the family that the bite from a recluse will not kill you, “but will make you wish you were dead”. Sandidge examined the home and even though it was winter when the spiders are less active, estimated the number of brown recluse spiders inside the house to be in the thousands. The family moved from the home.
As a result, the Trosts sued the previous owners (another expert testified in the trial and estimate the number of brown recluse spiders to be as high as 6,000) and were awarded over $470,000. The Trosts are now attempting to collect on a home owner’s claim with their insurance company (the insurance company refused to pay since there is an insect exclusion on the policy – despite the fact that spiders are not insects). This week, after being vacant for two years, the home was covered with an exterminator’s brightly colored tarp as it was pumped full of poisonous gas in an effort to finally rid the home of the dangerous, uninvited guests. The home is currently owned by the Federal National Mortgage Association and available to purchase by any eager buyers.