PAULDING COUNTY, Ga. (FOX 5 Atlanta) - When the Photianos family moved into their Paulding County home, on Due West Road, they quickly learned they weren't alone.
"They were in every single room of the house, all the bedrooms, the closets, the bathrooms, the tubs," homeowner Stephen Photianos said. "It was horrifying."
Hundreds of brown recluse spiders had infested the house.
"Crap, we just bought this death trap," Photianos said.
And these aren't your average creepy crawlers; their bite comes with a poisonous punch that can cause severe skin lesions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
One family friend knows from personal experience, after helping move items out of the house last week.
"I've been bit [sic] by just about anything, but that was by far the worst," the family friend told FOX 5 News, who wanted to remain anonymous. "It was very painful." He said he had to be hospitalized and is currently on multiple antibiotics.
The brown recluse is a resilient creature. Photianos said the spiders survived three different exterminators and the family's personal attempts to rid the home of the brown recluse.
"You would've thought one of the regular pest control companies could have nipped it in the butt, taken care of it, but these things are tenacious and they just keep coming back," Photianos said.
He told FOX 5 News the family has been fighting off the infestation for a year now, moving in and out between pest control operations. Photianos said their seven kids permanently moved out when the school year ended because the number of spiders spiked.
The previous owners and the home inspector were not aware of the infestation, according to Photianos. He believes the infestation occurred during a mold removal process, which happened during a several month vacancy ahead of the family's move-in date. Prior to signing the papers, they only visited the home during the day. Brown recluse spiders typically hunt at night.
Now, in a last-ditch effort, the family is fundraising for a full fumigation of the home, which carries a $13,000 price tag. Photianos said their homeowner’s insurance does not cover the infestation.
In the meantime, the family of nine, including seven kids aged 3 to 11, has split up between different relatives' homes.
"It's heartbreaking," Photianos said. "It's so hard to not see your children every day."
FOX 5 News independently checked with an area exterminator to confirm the images of the spiders were a brown recluse. Adam Vannest, with Northwest Exterminating, said infestations are extremely rare in metro Atlanta but the warm weather sometimes brings the poisonous spider closer to the city. He said you will find more in Northwest Georgia.