Family Abandons Home Due To Massive Spider Infestation

Actual house and spiders not pictured. (Scott Lynch)

Actual house and spiders not pictured. (Scott Lynch)

There’s a lovely home near St. Louis that was once worth around $450,000, and now sits abandoned and in foreclosure. The last owners won a lawsuit against the previous owners for failing to disclose one really, really important thing about the house: it is infested with thousands of brown recluse spiders.

That’s a species of spider that is venomous, but rarely lashes out and attacks people. You know, that’s why they’re called “recluses.” Still, no one wants six thousand roommates, venomous or not, and the family was not happy about the infestation and less happy that the previous owners of the house hadn’t warned them.

The first hints of trouble were when the family noticed large spider webs on the light fixtures that hadn’t been there when they did their final walk-through before purchase. After they moved in, they began to find spiders everywhere: falling from the ceiling, crawling out of the walls, scampering up the window treatments.

Here’s where things get kind of weird: the previous owners’ insurance company, State Farm, defended them when the new owners sued them. There was a trial with a jury, and the new owners won an award of $472,110. However, they weren’t able to collect: the previous owners declared bankruptcy, and State Farm refused to pay the claim. Why? A spider infestation doesn’t count as actual damage to a home. Also, the policy rules out some very specific things, which include infestations of insects. The scientific argument that spiders are not “insects” didn’t work on State Farm.

Fannie Mae owns the house now that it has gone into foreclosure. This week, the house will be tented and fumigated, a pest control method normally associated with termite infestations, or with a plotline from the fifth season of the TV show “Breaking Bad.” Will this work where other pest control methods haven’t? “There’ll be nothing alive in there after this,” the man tasked with killing the spiders told he St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Tenting houses is a new method for dealing with brown recluse spiders that wasn’t in use three years ago when the family abandoned the house.

Extreme case of brown recluse spiders drives owners from Weldon Spring home [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]