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Hobo

hobo-spider-2.jpgThere are three main types of Hobo spiders; Tegenaria agrestis, T. gigantic, and T. domestica. Hobo spiders, also referred to as the Aggressive House Spider, have been suspected of living in the United States as early as the 1920's and are found throughout the Pacific Northwest. To catch their prey, hobo spiders build funnel webs in holes, cracks, and recesses. They may be found in outdoor near window wells, and stacks of firewood and bricks. Indoors, hobo spiders can nest between boxes or other storage items, on window sills, under baseboard heaters or radiators, behind furniture, and in closets. The bite of a hobo spider may go unnoticed; however a moderate to severe, slow-healing wound will develop.

 

We have identified a spider bite ointment that contains activated charcoal along with other spider bite treatments.  We have also located a spider bite first aid kit that includes the spider bite ointment along with supplies to deal with the other symptoms associated with venomous spider bites (e.g., hobo spider, brown recluse spider and black widow spider) and other insect bites and stings. 

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Habitat

Hobo spiders were originally from Europe. It is believed that they were transported to the US via shipping lanes and ended up in Seattle, WA in the late 1920s. Hobo spiders have since expanded slowly throughout the Northwestern and Mountainwestern US and Western Canada. Hobo spider bites have often been confused with the brown recluse; therefore, public awareness of the hobo spider is low.

  • Hobo spider webs can be outdoors in rock piles or under logs or lumber as well as garages, barns and other outbuildings.
  • Indoors hobo spiders can be found in closets, basements, crawl spaces, attics, ductwork and registers. They may also retreat to shoes, clothing, storages boxes and behind or under furniture.

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hobo-spider-closeup.jpgIdentification

  •  Body size: hobo spiders are typically 0.5 inch body and 1-1.5 inch leg spand, between the size of a nickel and a quarter

  • Legs: 1-1.5 inches leg span with tiny hairs, unlike many other similar looking spiders, hobo spiders do not have dark bands on their legs

  • Markings: the top of the abdomens of hobo spiders have several distinct yellow several chevron shaped markings

  • Sex: male hobo spiders are distinctively different from females in that they have two large palpi (mouth parts) that look like boxing gloves. These palpi are often mistaken for fangs or venom sacs, but they are in fact the male genitalia. The female hobo spiders also have these palpi, but the ends are not enlarged as they are in the males.

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Frome left to right a male hobo spider and a juvenile hobo spider

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Mis-Identification

Hobo spiders can also be classified by thier behavior as hunting spiders.  From a distance, some common, harmless North American hunting spiders can look similar in appearance to the hobo spider.  Many of these spiders are often seen in or around home.  This is why it is important to learn to recognize the difference between these common harmless spiders and the hobo spider with its potentially dangerous spider bite:

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 From left to right these are the hobo spider, the wolf spider, the funnel spider, the southern house spider, the wolf spider, and the huntsman spider. 

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Behavior

hobo-spider-web.jpgHobo spiders do not climb like most are fast runners.  Hobo spiders are more agressive than black widow or brown recluse spiders and are more likely to attack if threatened.

The Hobo spider has a distinctive web that is horizontal and flat with a funnel at one end. These funnel shaped webs are often attached to an object in the yard, by the foundation of structures, or anything that remains stationary near the ground. Hobo spiders rarely climb vertical surfaces and are uncommon above basements or ground level. 

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Symptoms 

There have been about 175 reported bites from the Hobo spider. Although the bite of the hobo spider usually is initially painless, the bite of the hobo spider can be serious. About 50% of Hobo spider bites are "dry", meaning that no venom is injected and nothing happens to the victim. Typically when the venom is injected, the victim will experience an immediate redness, which develops around the bite then may begin to disappear within a few hours. The most commonly reported symptom is severe headache. Other symptoms can include nausea, weakness, fatigue, temporary memory loss, and vision impairment.

  •  brown-recluse-spider-bite-6.jpghobo-spider-bite.jpgSpider bites generally becomes red and feel warm within a few hours

  • Headache is common

  • First 24 hours feels similar to a mosquito bite

  • Within 24-36 hours the blister breaks open, leaving an open, oozing ulceration.

  • While most hobo spider bites are minor, some can lead to an erupting lesion (a hole in the flesh caused by gangrenous tissue). The lesion can range from the size of a pea to a half dollar or larger. The dead tissue gradually falls off, exposing underlying tissues. The sunken, ulcerated hobo wound may take weeks or even months to heal leaving a ugly scar.

See Spider Bite page for more details and photos.

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First Aid 

spider-bite-kit-items.jpgTake the following steps if you have a hobo spider bite:

  • Stay calm.
  • If safe, capture the hobo spider. Because it is nearly impossible to identify the cause simply by examining the wound and because necrotic wounds can result from a variety of agents in addition to hobo spider bites, identifying the spider will help the medical professional better know which course of action to take.
  • Clean the spider bite area with soap, alcohol or other astringent.
  • Cover hobo wound with a clean bandage
  • If pain is severe apply benzocaine or other topical pain reliever.
  • Apply ice to the hobo spider bite area to slow absorption of the venom.
  • Elevate bite area if possible.
  • Do not attempt to remove hobo spider bite venom.

See the Spider Bite First Aid page for more detail on first aid options.

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Control 

brown-recluse-spider-duster.jpgHobo spiders may be distributed throughout the house and infestations may take months to bring under control. The best control uses multiple techniques involving bite prevention, cleanliness, trapping and insecticides. Individuals can take the following steps to minimize risk of hobo spider bites:

    • Inspect or shake out any clothing, shoes, towels, or equipment before use.
    • Minimize the empty spaces between stacked materials. Remove bedskirts and move beds away from walls.
    • Dust and vacuum to remove hobo spider webs and egg sacs.
    • Eliminate garage, basement, attic and closet clutter.
    • Remove and reduce debris, rubble, and tall grasses from around the house where hobo spiders pefer to hide.
    • Take care when handling cardboard boxes
    • Keep your tetanus booters up to date (every 10 years).  Hobo spider bites can become infected with tetanus spores.

 

  • Control hobo spider and prey insect populations in the home with pest control products such as dusts, sprays and traps, preferably with natural products that are not harmful to humans, pets or the environment.

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For more inforation see the associated pages about spider dust, spider spray, and spider traps.

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