Thursday, September 29, 2005

Is it a Hobo Spider or isn't it?

Hobo spider
Tegenaria agrestis
As copied from the "Hobo Spider Story" web site. Real distribution in 2002; real bites do not occur outside pink area! Other colors are Brown Recluse (Green) and other Recluse spider (Blue) populations.

The Hobo Spider, a gift from England to the United States in the 1920's is one bad ass spider. They pack a pretty nasty, wicked little bite that is quite often confused with the bite of a Brown Recluse spider.

As luck will have it the Hobo Spider falls prey to the European House Spider (Lesser and Greater) where they are present.

Hobo's, like the European House Spiders are funnel web spiders. They build large, intricate funnel webs in crawlspaces, attics, under furniture and in corners of homes--- inside and outside. The Hobo Spider is known in England and much of Europe as a spider that migrates from the outside of the home to the inside of the home in the fall of each year. This migration is associated with their mating habits as well as weather patterns. The males search for females during the fall for mating purposes. Hence, the Hobo Spiders are pretty active during the fall of the year.

Vancouver, British Columbia seems to be the start of the Hobo "infestation". In the 1920's the Hobo Spider found a foothold in Vancouver. By the early 1960's they found their way as far south as Seattle, Washington and were spreading rapidly towards the east, infesting Southern Canada and the northwestern United States. The Pacific Northwest, primarily in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Utah and western Montana are Hobo Spider favorites.

The giant European House Spider is one of the primary competitors of the Hobo Spider. As quoted from Eagle Rock Research "the giant house spider, being a larger carnivorous arachnid than the hobo spider, very likely preys upon the hobo when the opportunity presents itself, but it's primary role as an agent of competitive exclusion appears to be as a competitor for food and web sites."

These giant European House Spiders are huge in Pacific Northwest spider species standards. I've found them in our home as large as cell phone's length and width or larger. They're extremely fast and do jump when threatened... usually away from the threat. Until recently, I've confused them with Hobo Spiders and have been trying to eradicate them. I now know that's the wrong thing to do if you don't want Hobo Spiders around. The Hobo's cousin, the European House Spider will eventually drive the Hobo Spider away if they aren't destroyed themselves.

Why the post re: Hobo Spiders? Well, every year at about this time those of us who live in the Pacific Northwest get an influx of spiders moving about inside our homes. Even while taking the utmost care to check our shoes, shake our clothing before putting anything on or drawing back the covers before crawling into bed the Hobo Spider still persists and still bites. I was bit by a Hobo on the lower right leg over two years ago. It ulcerated from a sore about the size of a pencil eraser to the size of a dollar bill before the doctor and I could get a handle on it. As it stands, I still have quite the scar where much of my flesh and muscle was dissolved, leaving a large recess where the bite occurred. The whole diagnosis, treatment and healing process took over eight months to complete. It wasn't a pleasant experience at all and quite frankly, scared the bejesus out of me. Needless to say, I've been on the warpath with Hobo's ever since.

So this post is to make those of you who aren't aware of the Hobo's existence aware of it and to inform those of you who are aware of the Hobo that there are predators out there of the Hobo that look much like the Hobo but are one of your best allies when it comes to Hobo eradication.

Make sure you're crushing the right one.