Brown recluse spiders have infested houses in the greater St. Louis area for many years. Becoming deeply entrenched, they make people uncomfortable in their own homes. Some families attempt to move away from the infestation, while others pursue litigation on the previous homeowner. For pest control professionals, treating brown recluse spiders has become a protracted process with no guaranteed results. Living behind walls and other reclusive areas for six months with no food or water makes these arachnids a formidable opponent. Until now.
In the summer of 2012, Tim McCarthy, president of McCarthy Pest Control, St. Louis, began researching how to better treat these deeply embedded brown recluse infestations. He determined the only way to penetrate all areas of infestation was tenting and fumigating, but he needed to learn more about how the process worked. So, McCarthy signed up himself and his staff entomologist, Bob Richardson, for a fumigation school in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
“The fumigation school was amazing. We got to meet industry professionals and the classes were spectacular. We actually got on-site experience in fumigations at local properties with experienced fumigators and professors,” McCarthy said. “Dr. Rudi Scheffrahn and his staff went the extra mile to make sure we learned the process and yet made it enjoyable. Next to actually doing it yourself, this is the best experience you can get. We made many friends at the school who have helped us tremendously. I certainly thank Sean Brantley of Brantley and Sons Fumigation Service and Erik Warren with Key Fumigation. Erik actually assisted in materials and manpower for our first job.”
McCarthy fumigated its first home with Dow AgroSciences’ Vikane in July 2013. The homeowners were ready to move because of the spiders. “We told them that moving is an option, but the chances of introducing the spiders into a new home is high,” McCarthy said. “They decided fumigation was the way to go and after a period of preparation, the treatment was initiated.”
With the help of Erik from Key Fumigation, the job went flawlessly, McCarthy said. “The homeowner reacted unexpectedly after a few days of being back in their home without the spider infestation,” he added. “She didn’t realize how much stress there actually was living in a house infested with brown recluse spiders. It was like a feeling of total relief overtook her. She is extremely happy and glad they got to stay in their dream home and the threat is gone.”
The home is still under McCarthy’s care, and so far (first quarter 2014), not one brown recluse has been seen or caught on the home’s glueboards. Other homes have been fumigated and not one has experienced a recurrence of brown recluse spiders. Treatments stopped during winter, but will resume as soon as it warms up in the spring. As of now, several homes await fumigation this spring.
“It is nice to be able to help people deal with this menace in such a way to make them feel safe in their homes. The word is getting around and we are surprised to have so many people requesting our service,” McCarthy said. “We have always made a difference, but the magnitude of this difference makes us proud of what we do.”
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