Facts & Basic Information
The hobo spider is also known as the aggressive house spider. It has been known to hitch rides in cargo shipments or with people, hence the “hobo” name, and thereby has begun to establish its presence in other regions.
It predominantly inhabits the northwest area of the United States. The western hobo spider was introduced to North America from Europe, by way of immigration and trade, and was first discovered in Pacific Northwest ports.
They are a member of the funnel-web weaver spider family, Agelenidae. Funnel-web spiders can move rapidly, and the hobo spider should be capable of running at a velocity of almost four feet per second.
Confusion with Other Spiders
Hobo spiders are sometimes confused with brown recluse spiders, in part due to their appearance, but also because their bites are believed to cause similar symptoms, most notably, necrosis, or tissue death. However, the bite of a hobo spider has not proved fatal in healthy people. Both of these spiders will only bite if they feel threatened.
Giant house spiders are often misidentified as hobo spiders.
- If you can see dark rings around the spider’s leg, it is not a hobo spider.
- If its legs are shiny and missing fine hair, it is not a hobo spider.
- If its palp are long and pointed, it is not a hobo spider.
- If it has stripes on its cephalothorax, it is not a hobo spider.
Adult female hobo spiders reach approximately 0.5″ in body length, while the males are closer to ¼” or so.
More about what Hobo Spiders look like (with pictures).
Both sexes have an elongated abdomen. Male hobo spiders wander throughout the summer seeking a female.
Hobo spiders mate in the fall, and the female usually lays her eggs in September or October. Hobo spiders generally live for about two years.
They are light to medium brown with a lighter stripe down the center of the cephalothorax and darker stripe to either side.
To this day, the western hobo spider is most commonly encountered in the Northwest, including Washington, Oregon, Idaho, northeastern Utah, Colorado, western Wyoming, and western Montana. The hobo spider has been identified in southern states, but is not known to inhabit the Southwest. However, the presence of the hobo spider seems to be extending into new areas rather quickly.
The hobo spider may now be expected to occur in central Alberta, Canada, south and northwestern British Columbia, and coastal regions of extreme southern Alaska. See map for the current known range of this spider.
What Conditions Does it Like?
Hobo spiders can be found in moist, dark areas such as crawl spaces or basements, and outdoors, under firewood piles, sheds, or rocks. They create funnel-shaped webs where they can hide and await prey.
The hobo spider is an arachnid species with a demonstrable capability of extending its range into new territories and adapting to many types of habitats. While it probably cannot readily adapt to extremely dry, xeric habitats, it adapts well to situations with adequate moisture and relatively cool climates. The southern limit of its range potential in the United States may be at approximately the 37th parallel (in Utah at least), while the limit of its range potential east may extend to the east coast. The northern limit of range potential for this species in coastal areas probably extends far beyond the current known range, as the climatic conditions in these regions are amenable to its establishment.
Hobo spiders build funnel-shaped webs to ensnare prey. The webs have a wider end and then narrow into a crevice or other protected area. The spider will hide at the narrow end of the web to await an unsuspecting invader. They eat insects and some species of spiders as well.
Their webs, also called nests, can be located in woodpiles, gardens, under sheds or rocks, or next to a building’s foundation. Nests are usually constructed near the ground. Indoors, hobo spiders can be found in damp areas likes crawl spaces or basements.
The bite of a hobo spider is similar to that of a brown recluse in that it can cause necrotic (tissue destroying) wounds, but it is not fatal. A victim usually will notice a blister at the bite location, and other symptoms may appear 24 to 36 hours later. Symptoms include nausea, joint pain, headache, weakness or fatigue.
For many insects and spiders, the hobo spider is feared predator, but it also has some natural enemies that will prey upon it. In fact, some of these predators include other types of spiders, such as wolf spiders, jumping spiders, and European house spiders. Not only do these spiders prey upon the hobo spider, but they also serve as competition for food.
The praying mantis is also a fairly significant enemy of the hobo spider. However, praying mantises are active in the daytime, while hobo spiders are nocturnal, so this can sometimes be a factor in the mantises’ success rate.
The hobo spider also is preyed upon by black and yellow mud dauber wasps. Once they catch hobo spiders, they take them back to the nest to feed to their young.