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

by | May 18, 2021 | Pest

Startled by a huge brown—gray  spider scurrying across your floor? Wondering if it was a hobo spider & how to get rid of it? Look no further.

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

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 particularly dangerous.

In a lab environment, their bites are capable of causing necrotic skin damage. But there is a low likelihood of that happening to you. If hobo spiders were attacking and injuring people, cats or dogs en masse in Oregon, we would know.

Closeup of hobo spider, credit: Judgeking, wikimedia commons

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 spiders are well camoflauged and great at successfully avoiding predators. So they get huge over their life, gorging on a smorgasbord of bugs and insects.

How long do hobo spiders live?

One — three years. Depending on the availability of food & the quality of their habitat. Hobo spiders in moist lowland habitats may live shorter lives than their counterparts in high-dry environments.

What do hobo spiders look like?

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 (Eratigena atrica) are commonly named giant house spiders or funnel weavers.

They were introduced to the Pacific Northwest accidentally in the early 20th century. And since they have exploded in population.

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. Awaiting insect prey.

Flies, ants, beetles, earwigs, cockroaches 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 probably 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.
  • Keep vegetation cleared away from the sides of the home.
  • 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. So they’re rarely exposed to  enough pesticide residue to control them effectively.

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

    What Kills Hobo Spiders?

    To kill hobo spiders, manually squishing them with a paper towel or shoe works well. It’s the most natural organic way to kill hobo spiders.

    If you don’t want to get too close, keep an all-natural spider killer spray nearby and shoot them on the spot.

    You may not mind hobo spiders, just not in your house. For those folks, the overtuned cup with a piece of paper slid underneath is the age-old method of nuisance spider relocation. 

    If you’d prefer to have a professional customize a safe, effective spider control strategy for your home, call us today.

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