Hobo Spider

Hobo Spider, Vancouver Island, BC
Hobo Spider, Vancouver Island, BC, 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 southern Vancouver Island.

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 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 their 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 telling 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.

7 thoughts on “Hobo Spider”

  1. Our son had a nasty bite on his leg that swelled at first, to the diameter of a baseball, raised and red and then eventually the skin broke down at the puncture mark. It looked like someone had taken a cigar and burned him. The skin appeared to dissolve in the diameter of maybe a nickel. The doctor believed it to be a hobo spider bite and had seen them before. It healed with time and a course of antibiotics. We live in Sooke on Southern Vancouver Island.

  2. Hi. I live in Victoria in Van Island and just found one in my kitchen. I never got a photo, but released it outside. They do live here. Thanks for the website, that’s how I identified it.

    1. yes yes we just found one yesterday in Vic! You were much kinder to it than we were! RIP . #spiderphobia.

  3. Hello : we have hobo spiders in northern Vancouver Island or precisely I have one that I’ve allowed to remain over Winter ( providing it with a water bottle cap of water – witnessed it drinking – and the occasional fly from a friend’s kitchen compost bin. In Spring I witnessed a male ( has the palps) strumming the entrance of the female’s funnel web. ( they create music that has been recorded) These are very docile spiders that stay close to their dens .

      1. I didn’t get the male strumming but have some of the female at her drinking station. My Mom now 90 likes “ Spidey “ and we enjoy seeing her when she comes out of her funnel web, always amazed at how fast she moves to get breakfast. she checks the bug from all sides : then rolls it around ( making it more compact ) before taking it down the funnel

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 128 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop files here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.