Hobo Spider

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Spiders, Pacific Northwest

Hobo Spider, Spiders, BC Coast
Hobo Spider, Photo copyright by Sean McCann

The hobo spider is one that most people find both fascinating & terrifying. That is because most people think that the hobo is deadly & aggressive, and will invade your home, actively seeking out and biting humans.

There may be a bit of truth to this, as these spiders do like homes, will bite if threatened, and do have a nasty venom. While hobo spiders are big, scary & venomous, their bites very rarely kill, and they will not attack unless provoked or threatened.

Hobo spiders are native to the Pacific northwest and can be found in Oregon, Washington, northern California, and in southern British Columbia, including (some say) Vancouver Island. I am not sure about the Island, but have added the hobo to my site, so others will know a bit more about them.

These spiders like dark, damp places, where they can easily build their funnel webs, usually making them outdoors. In colder, more northern parts of their range areas, hobo spiders will sometimes move indoors, building their webs in attics, basements, carports, or crawl spaces.

Hobo spiders are brown in color and reach up to 19 mm in length. They are often hard to tell apart from other brown spiders, such as giant house spiders. Their abdomens have several V-shaped markings, that can sometimes distinguish them from other spiders. Male spiders can be differentiated from females, by their 2 large palps. These palps are quite often taken for venom sacs, but are actually the genitalia.

When a hobo spider bites, it may not inject venom – about half their bites are without this poisonous fluid. For bites injected with venom, there will be an immediate redness (sometimes resulting in severe headaches, nausea & vomiting), then it will blister. In about 1 – 3 days, the blister will break, leaving an open, pus-filled ulceration. It will heal in about 4 weeks, leaving a scar at the bite site, for life.

If you have giant house spiders in your home, you probably do not have hobo spiders. The giant house spider will hunt and eat the hobo spider. It may be hard tell a hobo from a giant house spider, though. One way, is to look at the length of the legs: a hobo spider’s legs are much shorter than the giant house spider’s, and a bit darker in color.

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