Do arachnids put you on the crazy train? Nervous that one might come tramping about in your shoes at night waiting for you to stick your foot in? Then having a hobo spider take up residence in your house is definitely not on your list of things to do.
These arachnids have been touted as one of the three most venomous in the US (the other two being black widows and brown recluse spiders). In reality, these spiders get a bum rap, but that doesn’t mean you want them squatting in your home.
Let’s get to know these little vagrants and their habits, as well as ways to send them packing.
Getting to Know Hobo Spiders
Hobo spiders (or Tegenaria agrestis, if you want to get technical) won’t kill you, but they can still have an effect on people with spider allergies.
They’re found exclusively in the Pacific northwest and Europe. However, they are slowly inching their way towards the central United States, displacing many native species in the process.
Identifying Hobo Spiders
These little guys can be difficult to identify without the aid of a microscope, as they closely resemble hundreds of other brown spider species. While this might sound scary, treating a hobo spider infestation is actually fairly low-risk, even if you can’t be sure what you have is actually a hobo.
More importantly, hobos are a type of funnel spider, measuring about 1/2 inches long with a leg span of up to two inches. They’re terrible climbers, and could probably outrun a cockroach when startled.
Outside of Europe, their habitat is restricted to the northwestern United States, so the vast majority of Americans will never encounter one.
Hobo spiders have great difficulty climbing any surface that’s not incredibly porous. Even then, they can achieve a maximum climbing height of about four feet (half of what you’d expect of an arachnid). Instead, they prefer to keep at or near ground level.
They look for cracks and crevices in which to build a funnel web, the darker the better. Gardens, foundations, wood piles, and retaining walls are all potential homes.
Indoors, they’ll hide behind baseboards or in piles of boxes or clutter. These little sundowners are nocturnal, so the dark dampness of basements are particularly attractive.
Common Hobo Spider Myths
Thanks to the ongoing efforts of science to understand our world (and the ongoing tendency for typos and mistaken identities to color our perceptions in the meantime), hobo spiders get the same amount of negative press as their human namesakes, if not more.
Here are some of the most common myths out there and the actual facts:
Effects of Hobo Spider Bites
You’re most likely to get bitten during the mating season (July through September) when males are out seeking potential mates. The sole reason for this spike in bites is the fact that the males are roaming around instead of staying near their funnel homes.
Symptoms are typical of most spiders, including itchiness, redness, or some other mild dermatitis around the wound. Those with an allergy to spider venom will show more severe symptoms in keeping with any other spider bite they’ve incurred.
Getting Rid of Hobo Spiders
Just because they’re no longer deemed dangerous doesn’t mean you want a hobo spider squatting on your property. Here are some quick and easy ways to get rid of these little critters.
Remove the Attraction
As with every other pest, the key to getting hobo spiders to stop thinking your home is a hotel is to remove the amenities. Keep your home clean and free of clutter and remove any debris in the yard. Check for leaks or standing water which could attract insects.
Lock the Doors
Check for any cracks in walls, floors, doors, or window frames and seal them up. Caulk is your best friend in keeping little critters like spiders out of your home and keep them from building webs. Checking for any such breaches is an excellent seasonal DIY project, as it also reduces your heating and air conditioning bills.
Make Them Stick Around
As long as they’re placed where smaller members of your household won’t get stuck, using glue traps (like these) near funnel nests is a good way to catch these critters and is fairly cost effective.
These can be glue boards, sticky traps, or any other variety, depending upon your personal preference.
If Spiders Suck, You Should Too
Using the edge attachment on your vacuum is a great way to remove these pets and their homes all at once. Just be sure to seal the bag tightly and dispose of it so they can’t escape.
Use a Down-to-Earth Remedy
The benefits of diatomaceous earth can never be stressed enough. Sprinkle some of this wonderful product where you believe hobo spiders (or other tiny critters) to be living and wait for the corpses to pile up.
Depending on the degree of infestation, there are a few other pest control options available for spiders as well as getting rid of their eggs. These include spider traps, contact aerosol sprays (Terro Spider Killer works great), insecticides (such as Demon Max), and attracting natural predators to your yard or garden.
Hobo spider control should never be a large enough issue to warrant hiring a specialist unless there’s also a major insect problem.