Hobo Spider

Hobo Spider Scientific Name: Tegenaria agrestis

All about the Hobo Spider

Hobo,” not to be confused with a bum or a tramp, is a term used to describe individuals who travel in search of work. Although not the original intention when naming the Hobo, this description could accurately describe this aggressive wandering spider.

What does a Hobo Spider look like?

Identification of the Hobo spider has proven difficult. Professional identification using anatomical characteristics is best; however, Hobo spiders do have some distinguishable qualities that will help to positively identify a spider as the Hobo. The abdomen of the Hobo spider is marked by a chevron (V-shaped) pattern. The “V’s” of the chevron pattern go down the middle of the abdomen, pointing towards the head. Other markings may or may not be found on the sternum of the Hobo spider: a light stripe down the middle or light spots on the sides.

Normally brown to rusty in color, Hobo spiders are one-half to three-fourth inches long. Male Hobo spiders have two large palps (the male genitalia), as do the female Hobo. The palps on the female Hobo spider are not as swollen-looking as on the male. Female Hobo Spiders also tend to have a larger abdomen. Male and female Hobos tend to have similar color and markings.

It is important to note that Hobo spiders are often misidentified as the Brown recluse spider. The Hobo spider does not have the violin-shaped marking on its abdomen like the Brown recluse, although their size and coloring are similar.

Where does the Hobo Spider live, and what does it eat?

Originally indigenous to Europe, the Hobo Spider is thought to have come to the Pacific Northwest region of the United States in the 1930s (any connection to hobos and the Great Depression is coincidental.) In Europe the Hobo Spider was found mostly in fields and far away from human habitation where its major competitor, the House spider, hogged all the house space. In North America the Hobo’s range has spread throughout the Pacific Northwest and has been reported as far west as Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah. Its nomadic character, however, has proven that the Hobo spider can be successful in various habitats and has the potential to spread into other U.S. territories. Although categorized occasionally as a “funnel web” spider, it is not to be confused with the Funnel web spider of Australia.

Preferring moderately dry and warm climates, the Hobo spins a non-sticky web. The Hobo waits for an insect to be tripped up in its web and then pounces on and consumes it. True to its name, the Hobo, as part of a group of spiders known as the Funnel web spiders, spins a funnel-shaped web. Its webs are most often found attached to the outsides of houses and in gardens.

Like other spiders, the Hobo feeds primarily on insects and other arthropods.

How long will the Hobo Spider live?

Male Hobos tend to wander (this seems to be a theme among hobos) in search of a mate in the late summer months and are usually eaten after mating (turns out this is not so unique to the Widow species.) Female Hobo spiders will live for approximately two years; males only a few months. The female Hobo spider produces several egg sacs (white to cream in color) at a time and suspends them from her web.

Are Hobo Spiders venomous?

The bite of the Hobo spider is venomous; however, the Hobo Spider will only bite a human when under stress, such as being squeezed or smashed against human skin. If a female Hobo spider feels her egg sac is being threatened, she may also attack. Most Hobo spiders do not reside in man-made structures but may come inside in search of a mate. For this reason Hobo spider bites do not typically occur in the home. The bite will cause localized pain and swelling and can cause necrosis (tissue death.)

Hobo spider bites have not been known to be fatal (in fact, about half of Hobo spider bites do not inject venom and therefore display no symptoms,) but lesions caused by its bite can take months to heal and begin as a small red bump. The bump may begin to blister and scab over between 24 and 36 hours after the bite, then “oozes” as it heals. Systemic symptoms of the Hobo bite include headaches, obstruction of vision, vomiting, and a feeling of discomfort or uneasiness.

How is a Hobo Spider bite treated?

Seek medical attention immediately. It is always a good idea to bring the spider in for positive identification, especially where the Hobo bite is so often mistaken for a Brown recluse bite. Ice should be applied to the area immediately to alleviate swelling, and an over-the-counter pain medication will help with soreness. If necrosis is severe, professional medical help may be needed to remove dead or damaged tissue. If care is taken to keep the bite clean and dry, the crust around the lesion will typically slough off over a few days.

Professional Hobo Spider Control

The Hobo spider’s habitat is concentrated to the outdoors, so extermination is most beneficial in the exteriors of a home. Spider “bombs” are not advisable, as a widespread elimination of spider species could lead to the wiping out of competition species, allowing the Hobo population to go unhindered Here are some methods for eliminating the spiders:.

  1. Pesticides applied to the perimeters of gardens and along exterior walls are effective in controlling Hobo spiders.
  2. Pre-baited Traps have been known to be most effective against Hobo spiders when placed near home entrances such as exterior doors and windows.
  3. If you believe you have an indoor Hobo spider problem, dust pesticides work well for treating hard-to-reach areas such as inside wall outlets, baseboards, and underneath insulation. Hobo spiders tend to build their webs in recesses like holes and cracks, and dust pesticides work well for these areas.

DIY Hobo Spider Control

Because Hobo control is best done by professionals with pesticides, it is better to focus on creating an environment unfriendly to the spider. Here are a few ways to prevent the entry of the spider into your home:

  1. Habitat Elimination: As if the Hobo had a hard enough time establishing a permanent residence, measures to eliminate the Hobo Spider’s habitat will prove helpful. Clean behind furniture, in closets, under baseboards, and other indoor areas, focusing on places that are seldom used. Outdoors Hobo spiders tend to reside in holes and crevices, so fill cracks in the cement or retaining walls with mortar or cement. Hobo webs should be vacuumed then frozen for a few hours before disposing of them (lowering the temperature will stop the egg sac from hatching.)
  2. Exclusion: Seal holes where pipes enter the house, as well as any cracks or openings in the foundation or around windows and doors.
  3. Lick ‘em and Stick ‘em: OK, don’t lick ‘em, but a glue board can be a great way of trapping the Hobo once it’s made its home in your home. The best glue boards for the Hobo are flat, thin pieces of cardboard with sticky glue and no perimeter edge. Place traps in corners and along edges of walls. Be liberal in your placement of glue boards, especially if you believe you have a Hobo Spider problem. Glue boards are also a good way to identify spider types and judge how well other eradication efforts are working (the more spiders are controlled using other methods, the less you’ll find on the glue board.) A sticky trap can be homemade by using a cardboard tube from a paper towel and covering the insides with a sticky material like Tack-Trap or Tanglefoot.
  4. Keep belongings off the floor: Especially in the basement and ground level of homes, keeping clothes and other clutter off the floor can also eliminate potential indoor Hobo habitats.

Hobo Spider Control: Green solutions

Especially with young ones and pets around, some homeowners may opt for a green alternative to control Hobo Spiders. Here are some solutions that may spark your interest if you’re seeking an environmentally-friendly solution:

  1. Spring Cleaning!: Again, many Hobo encounters can be avoided entirely simply by picking up and reducing clutter around the house. And, hey, you end up with a tidier house! Sweeping, dusting, and hosing out cobwebs can also be an effective green method.
  2. Chestnuts Roasting … : Place chestnuts around the exterior walls and windowsills of your home. Chestnuts have been known to repel spiders.
  3. Tobacco: Soak a package of chewing or pipe tobacco in a gallon of boiling water and let cool. Strain the liquid into a clean container, combine the tobacco liquid with lemon dish soap, and spray around windowsills and other points of entry. Lemon Pledge has also been known to ward off spiders.
  4. Orange oil, eucalyptus leaves, hedge apples, baking soda, and Pennyroyal can all be natural deterrents wherever you spot spiders. These can be used around entrances to the home.
  5. Call a Green Pest Control Service: Use a pest control company that specializes in eco-friendly pest extermination. Additionally, a nationally recognized and non-profit organization offers companies “Green Shield Certification” to ensure effective green pest control.

The Hobo Spider can be found within a widespread area in North America and in Europe. Mostly preferring to spin webs outdoors, Hobo spiders will also move indoors when searching out a mate or when temperatures outside get too cold. Keep clutter around the house picked up to prevent entry of spiders, and address a spider problem professionally if Hobo spiders are thought to be forming a habitat inside. The Hobo spider bite is venomous and painful–but easily treated and typically not lethal.