The hobo spider is a common household name in many parts of North America. This creature, often misunderstood, is frequently feared because of its reputation as an aggressive invader. However, the hobo spider is not as dangerous as many believe.
These spiders are usually brown and measure about a half inch in body length. They’re known for their funnel-shaped webs, which they use to trap their prey. The hobo spider is a type of funnel-web spider, and it’s usually found in the Pacific Northwestern regions of the United States.
Despite their intimidating appearance, hobo spiders are not typically aggressive towards humans. While their bite can cause discomfort, it’s rarely serious, although it has previously been erroneously reported that they leave necrotic wounds.
Understanding more about these spiders can help alleviate unnecessary fear and promote co-existence. Read on to learn everything you need to know about them!
What Are Hobo Spiders?
Hobo spiders are a common household pest that you may come across in your home. These spiders, scientifically known as Eratigena agrestis (formerly Tegenaria agrestis), are native to Europe but have found their way to North America.
The hobo spider is found in the Pacific Northwest region of North America, which stretches from British Columbia east to Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado, and then southward through Oregon and northern Utah.
The hobo spider was formerly common in Seattle, but it is now less dominant due to competition from another European species, the giant house spider, Eratigena atrica. They are often also mistaken for the more dangerous brown recluse spiders due to their similar appearance.
Hobo spiders are brown and measure about a third to two-thirds of an inch in length. They are known for their speed and agility, which they use to catch their prey rather than weaving intricate webs. These spiders prefer dark and damp environments, such as basements or crawl spaces, and are most active during the night.
Despite their somewhat fearsome reputation, hobo spiders are not as dangerous as many believe. While their bite can cause discomfort, it’s rarely serious for humans.
Lifecycle Of A Hobo Spider
The lifecycle of a hobo spider begins as an egg. The female spider lays her eggs in a silken sac, usually in late summer or early fall. This egg sacs can contain up to several hundred eggs, which are carefully guarded by the mother until they hatch.
The spiderlings emerge from the eggs as tiny replicas of their parents, albeit much smaller. They molt several times as they grow, shedding their old exoskeletons and forming new ones. This process, known as ecdysis, is a crucial part of the spider’s lifecycle.
As the hobo spider matures, it becomes more solitary, venturing out to establish its own territory. The males begin to roam in search of females, often entering homes and other buildings. Once they find a suitable mate, they reproduce, and the cycle begins anew.
The average lifespan of a Hobo Spider is about two years. However, many factors can influence this, including food availability, environmental conditions, and predation.
How To Identify Hobo Spiders
Hobo spiders are a common pest in many homes, and knowing how to identify them can help you manage an infestation. They share traits with many of their relatives in the Agelenidae family, including coloration.
These spiders have a distinct appearance: they are brown and measure about a third to half an inch in body length. Their legs span an inch or more. A key identifying feature is the unique pattern on their abdomen – a series of chevron-shaped markings.
The hobo spider does not have any distinct coloration or banding on their legs, unlike many other spider species. They also have two palps near their mouth that resemble small boxing gloves. These are more pronounced in male spiders.
How to Identify with a Microscope
Unfortunately, identification with the naked eye can be tricky and you’ll need a microscope or hand lens.
To identify them, look for fine, almost clear hairs that lay flat against their bodies. They’re known as plumose setae and are are found on all agelenidae, so you need to look for other signs too. These spiders also don’t have dark bands on their legs, unlike other similar-looking spiders.
Underneath their fangs, they have six to eight teeth on each slide while most other common spiders have three to five teeth.
The arrangement of the eyes is also unique. They have eight eyes in two straight rows. while most other aglenid spiders have eyes in a pattern of three rows with two on the top, four in the middle, and two on the bottom.
Hobo Spiders vs. Brown Recluse Spiders
When it comes to spiders, hobo and brown recluse are two names that often cause alarm. Both are quite common, and while they share some similarities, there are key differences to note.
Hobo spiders, originating from Europe, are now widespread in the United States. They are fast runners and are usually found in dark, damp places.
On the other hand, brown recluse spiders are native to America. They are often identified by the violin-shaped mark on their back. Unlike Hobo spiders, they prefer dry and warm environments.
In terms of danger, both spiders can bite, but reactions vary. Hobo spider bites are painful but usually cause less severe symptoms. Brown Recluse bites, however, can lead to serious skin damage if not treated promptly.
Signs Of Hobo Spiders
If you’re unsure whether you’re dealing with hobo spiders, there are several telltale signs to look for.
Firstly, check for their distinctive funnel-shaped webs. Unlike other spiders that create intricate, circular webs, hobo spiders weave a funnel web often located in low traffic areas, like corners, basements, and behind furniture.
Secondly, look out for bites. Although hobo spider bites are rare, they can cause mild to severe symptoms. These include redness, swelling, and a blister that forms within thirty minutes of the bite.
Lastly, observe their behavior. Hobo spiders are poor climbers since they aren’t designed to climb smooth surfaces in homes.
For this reason, they are often found scurrying across floors and rarely ever are found above ground level. They are more active at night and during mating season, which is from July to September.
What Causes Hobo Spiders?
Hobo spiders are not ’caused’ by anything specific, but certain conditions can lead to an increase in their population. Hobo spiders prefer damp, dark, and secluded areas, making basements, sheds, and garages their ideal habitats.
The presence of hobo spiders in your home can be linked to several factors. Firstly, the availability of food sources like insects and other small pests can attract these spiders. Secondly, the presence of clutter provides a perfect environment for them to hide and breed. Lastly, if your home has small openings, it can be an entry point for these spiders.
It’s important to note that while hobo spiders are often feared due to mistaken identity as the more dangerous brown recluse spider, they are generally not aggressive and their venom is not harmful to humans.
However, a hobo spider infestation should be addressed promptly to avoid any potential issues. Regular cleaning, reducing clutter, and sealing off potential entry points can help keep these spiders at bay.
Where Can Hobo Spiders Be Found And When?
Hobo spiders, also known as aggressive house spiders, are common in various parts of the world. Originating from Europe, they have spread to the United States, particularly in the Pacific Northwest. They can often be found in your garden, basement, or garage, seeking shelter in dark, damp corners.
These spiders are not seasonal and can be encountered throughout the year. However, you will notice an increase in their activity during late summer and early fall. This is their mating season, and during this period, male spiders wander around searching for females, increasing the chances of them entering your home.
Hobo Spider Habitat
Hobo spiders prefer to dwell in dark and moist places, often making their homes in basements, crawl spaces, and underneath rocks or piles of wood.
Unlike other spiders, the hobo spider is a poor climber. Therefore, they are rarely found above ground level in homes. Outside, they create funnel-shaped webs in low-traffic areas, using the web to trap unsuspecting prey. Inside, they may be found in boxes, in closets, or behind furniture.
As their name suggests, hobo spiders are not picky about their habitat. They can adapt to a variety of environments, both indoors and outdoors. However, they are most commonly found in the Pacific Northwest, particularly in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.
Hobo Spider Bites
A hobo spider can potentially deliver a painful bite. Although they are not naturally aggressive, they may bite if they feel threatened or cornered.
But it’s important to note that hobo spiders are not as dangerous as was once believed.
In fact, there is so much misinformation about hobo spiders that it was previously thought that they could cause a necrotic lesion similar to that caused by brown recluse spiders.
In such cases, however, the majority of evidence has been circumstantial. The common belief is that hobo spider bites only cause mild pain and redness.
Recent evidence shows that they’re actually harmless and the CDC (Center for Disease Control) does not list them among venomous spider species that are known to be toxic to humans.
The bite itself is often painless, but within a few hours, it may become red and swollen. Some people may experience headaches, weakness, fatigue, and a slight fever.
It’s important to note that not all hobo spider bites result in significant symptoms. In fact, many bites heal without any medical intervention. However, if you suspect a hobo spider bite and symptoms persist, it’s crucial to seek medical attention.
Hobo Spider Look Alikes
Believe it or not, not every spider you encounter is a dangerous one. Many are harmless look-alikes of the more feared species like the Hobo spider. The Hobo spider, often mistaken for its harmless counterparts, is a common house spider with a reputation for delivering a nasty bite. However, there are several spiders that look remarkably similar.
Firstly, the giant house spider, which is larger but has a similar brown, hairy appearance. It’s often mistaken for the Hobo due to its size and color.
Another look-alike is the domestic house spider. It’s smaller, but its coloration and patterns can lead to confusion. The third common look-alike is the Wolf Spider. While it’s larger and more robust, its hairy body and similar color can cause misidentification.
It’s essential to know these look-alikes so as not to panic every time you see a spider. Many spiders are beneficial, keeping the population of other pests in check.
How to Prevent Hobo Spiders
There are effective ways to prevent these unwelcome visitors. Firstly, maintain cleanliness in your home. Regular vacuuming can remove any existing spiders and discourage new ones from setting up residence.
Seal cracks and crevices in your walls, windows, and doors. Hobo spiders can squeeze through these tiny spaces, so it’s essential to cover them up. Also, keep your outdoor area tidy. Trim overgrown shrubs and grass, as these can serve as hideouts for spiders.
Avoid storing boxes and other clutter in your home. These items provide perfect hiding spots for hobo spiders. If you must store items, use sealed plastic containers or plastic bags instead of cardboard boxes.
Plus, it’s important to seal tools when storing them in sheds and garages. Use plastic bags when storing. Always remember to wear a long-sleeved shirt, hat, and long pants when working with stored boxes and firewood. I also recommend wearing boots and socks.
Always make sure to look inside and shake out any gloves, boots, and clothing item in case they haven’t been used for a really long period of time. Prevention is always better than cure!
How To Get Rid Of Hobo Spiders
Hobo spiders are not as dangerous as some believe, but their presence can still be unnerving. Here’s how you can get rid of them:
Vacuum the Spiders (Most Effective)
If you’re dealing with a Hobo spider infestation, one of the most effective methods to get rid of them is by vacuuming.
Yes, you read it right. Your everyday vacuum cleaner can be a powerful tool in your fight against these pests.
Hobo spiders, known for their aggressive nature and unpleasant bites, often hide in dark, secluded areas of your home. They can be found lurking in corners, under furniture, and in basements, window wells, and cawl spaces.
Using a vacuum cleaner helps you reach these difficult spots with ease. It not only sucks up the spiders but also their webs and eggs, preventing further infestation. Ensure to empty the vacuum bag immediately into a sealed bag and dispose of it in an outdoor trash can to prevent any escapees.
Move The Hobo Spiders Outdoors .
Use a glass or jar to carefully trap the spider. Slide a piece of paper under the jar, ensuring the spider is safely inside. Now, you’re ready to move the hobo spider outdoors. Release it in an area away from your home to prevent it from coming back.
Remember, hobo spiders are not aggressive and prefer to flee than bite. However, it’s always important to handle them with care to avoid any unwanted incidents. If you’re uncomfortable handling them, consider hiring a pest control professional.
Swat Hobo Spiders
Another simple method is to swat them. Use a fly swatter or a rolled-up newspaper and crush them.
Be quick and accurate, as these spiders are fast runners. But remember, this method is only effective for visible spiders.
To deal with hidden spiders, consider using glue traps. Place them in corners, under furniture, and other places where spiders might lurk. Let’s look at this in more detail in our next tip:
Use Sticky Traps
ticky traps are a simple, effective solution. These traps are a non-toxic and safe way to get rid of these pesky intruders.
Sticky traps, also known as glue boards, are incredibly easy to use. Simply place them in areas where you’ve spotted the spiders. Common spots include corners of rooms, behind furniture, and along walls. The sticky surface of the trap captures the spiders, stopping them in their tracks.
The best part about sticky traps is their longevity. They can remain effective for weeks, continuously trapping hobo spiders that dare to tread on them. Plus, they’re affordable and readily available in most supermarkets or online.
So, if you’re tired of dealing with hobo spiders, give sticky traps a try. They’re a hassle-free, cost-effective method to reclaim your home from these unwelcome guests.
Spray Pesticides (Not As Effective)
If you’re dealing with a hobo spider infestation, you might be tempted to reach for the easiest solution – a can of spray pesticide. However, it’s important to understand that this method is not as effective as you might hope.
While spraying pesticides can kill some of these pests, it often fails to eradicate the entire population. Hobo spiders are known for their resilience and adaptability, which allows them to survive even in adverse conditions.
Moreover, these spiders have a knack for hiding in hard-to-reach corners and crevices, making it difficult for the pesticide spray to reach them. Even if the spray does reach them, hobo spiders are often resistant to common pesticides, meaning they can survive and continue to breed despite your efforts.
Therefore, while spraying pesticides might seem like a quick fix, it’s not the most effective way to get rid of hobo spiders.
How To Keep Hobo Spiders Away From You
Hobo spiders can be a real nuisance, especially when they invade your living space. The good news is, there are effective ways to keep these eight-legged creatures at bay.
- First of all, maintain cleanliness. Hobo spiders thrive in cluttered spaces, so regular cleaning and decluttering can discourage their presence.
- Seal off entry points. These spiders can squeeze through small cracks and gaps, so ensure your windows, doors, and walls are properly sealed.
- Use natural repellents. Essential oils like peppermint and lavender can deter hobo spiders. Spritz these around your home, especially in areas where you’ve spotted spiders before.
- Lastly, consider professional pest control. If the infestation is substantial, it might be best to call in the experts. They have the right tools and knowledge to effectively eliminate hobo spiders.
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Melissa Pino is a biologist, master gardener, and regular contributor for Planet Natural. Melissa's work focuses on promoting environmentally-friendly practices, helping people create healthy gardens and finding ways to achieve overall health and wellness.