Hobo Spiders: Facts, Look-alikes and How To Get Rid of Them

by | May 18, 2021 | Pest

Wondering how to get rid of those the huge brown—gray spiders scurrying menacingly across your floor? Look no further.

Before you call the spider exterminator, briefly review these tips to get smart with hobo spider control in the home.

Closeup of hobo spider, credit: Judgeking, wikimedia commons

Are Hobo Spiders Dangerous?


Hobo spiders creep us out. But generally, don’t worry. They’re extremely common in our area, and not known to be dangerous. If hobo spiders were attacking and injuring people, cats or dogs en masse, we would know.

Why are the hobo spiders in Portland SO huge?

Half a dozen large rivers converging, moist forests and plenty of rainfall means lots of insects to eat. Hobo spiders are an introduced species from Europe. They are highly adaptable to human disturbance, and may even be an invasive species.

Hobo Spider Identification

Hobo spiders can vary greatly in appearance. They can range in size from smaller than a dime to larger than a quarter (7-14mm). Another type of spider Giant house spider, or house spiders are hobo’s main look alike. An uncanny doppelgänger. Facts:

  • Even arachnologists can’t decide whether hobo spiders are a separate species from house spiders or not.
  • In general, hobo spiders are distinctive from house spiders by a light colored vertical line along the sternum.
  • As of April 2020, Hobo spiders are considered a separate species, named Eratigena agrestis.

‘Agrestis’ actually refers to the fields and agricultural areas where these spiders were first described. It does not refer to aggressive attributes, since hobo spiders are actually very docile. Sometimes they crawl towards humans, but they are trying to escape, not attack.

House or hobo spider in the genus tegenaria, weaving its funnel

Giant House Spiders

House spiders are commonly named giant house spiders, funnel weaver spiders or Tegenaria spiders. Generally, house spiders have four light dots on each corner of the sternum where hobo spiders usually have a single stripe up the middle.

What do house spiders eat?

Similar to hobo spiders, female house spiders prefer to remain at the bottom of their funnel web.

Ants, earwigs, cockroaches, flies and other bugs that enter the web become prey for house spiders. Oftentimes, male house spiders creeping along floors in search of a mate trigger a call to the spider exterminator. However, it’s important to remember that hobo spiders and house spiders don’t eat humans. An itchy allergic bug bite is the most harm they are capable of doing to you or your pets.

How to get rid of hobo spiders in the house:

  • Remove or reduce clutter in basements and storage areas. House spiders love to nest in crevices between boxes, paintings, papers, items and walls.
  • Set glue traps flush against the walls & under furniture to trap roaming male house spiders while they’re doing laps around your baseboards at night.
  • Vacuum webs and visible spiders to mechanically remove them.
  • Use all-natural over the counter spider sprays to kill any creepy spiders on the spot.
  • Inspect for ants, flies, earwigs and other bugs and treat with an Integrated Pest Management strategy to reduce spider food.

Important Pollinator Safety Note:

Spraying for spiders outdoors may seem to reduce their numbers, but should be avoided in most situations. Spiders actually have claws on the bottom of their legs, so they do not pick up most residual pesticides. They do not groom themselves either. This is another way they avoid exposure to lethal amounts of the residual pesticides we so commonly spray for spiders.

However, beneficial insects like ladybugs & honeybees do groom themselves, and are much more likely to be affected negatively by outdoor insecticide sprays.

Orb Weaver Spiders

The second most common call for spider pest control is for orb weaver spiders. Garden spider, aka orb weavers includes a large family of brightly colored quarter-sized spiders. They are notorious for building their circular webs (“orbs”) right around head-height. We are startled and uncomfortable when we walk into an orb weaver web.

Orb weaver spiders adults range from 1/4″ to over an 1″, so are around the same size as hobo spiders. But generally they are brightly colored, and rarely make their orb nests indoors.

What Do Orb Weaver Spiders Eat?

Orb weaver spiders eat flies, wasps, mosquitos and other flying pests. Their circular webs are evolved to absorb impact from flying insects and trap them. In fact, fossil records suggests orb weaver spiders existed 100 million years ago. Orb weaver spiders may have even altered the course of evolution for flying insects.

Since orb weaver spiders are so closely dependent on flying insects outside for food, they’re very unlikely to enter your home. Orb weaver spider pest control can be simple as knocking down webs with a broom and squishing the spider underfoot. Remember, a pesticide spray for spiders is likely to be less effective & more harmful for pollinators than we usually hope.

If you’re still concerned with the amount of spiders in & around your Portland home, feel free to call. We will inspect & develop a customized integrated spider pest management strategy for your home. Call us to reduce spider sightings at home while better protecting the safety of people, pets, pollinators & the environment.

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