In the Garden:
Inland Northwest, High Desert
Hobo spiders love to hang out in rocks and wood piles.
Hobos on the Move
When I was a little girl following Uncle Val around his gardens, he gave me some advice I've never forgotten. "Never stick your hand in where you can't see," he said. And he showed me a large, inflamed wound on his right hand. He'd reached into a pillar of ivy to pull out some old leaves and came out with a serious hobo spider bite.
Male hobo spiders (Tegenaria agrestis) are turning up in basements and crawl spaces in the northern half of our region as they look for a cool place to stay and a little love.
Identifying the Hobos
Hobos can measure three-quarters of an inch wide across the body. Their long, hairy legs bring them up to an impressive two inches across. And they run like the wind. They like irregular structures to hang their funnel-shaped nests in - such as a stack of firewood or exposed beams in a basement. Anywhere they can anchor the nest from three points will do.
Spiders Are Good Guys, Right?
Also known as "aggressive house spiders," hobo spiders spend summers munching on flies and other insects. They don't usually go after humans or animals - it's hard for spiders in general to bite humans because of the angle of their mouth parts - they can and will bite if cornered. Their bite often is confused with the bite of the brown recluse spider. It's poisonous, and the wounds can be serious enough to need to be seen by a doctor.
Avoiding Hobo Spiders
The very best way to avoid being bitten by a hobo spider is to prevent an encounter by keeping hobos out of the house. Make sure the window screens fit tightly. Caulk all around the window and door casings. Don't forget to put an extra dab on the dryer vent and utility openings in the side of the house.
If you see these spiders in the house, flyswatters work well, but vacuum cleaners are even better. Be sure to empty the bag immediately.
The wood pile is a choice winter spot for spiders. If you suspect that a hobo is in the pile, wear gloves and pick up each piece of wood and look it over. Avoid carrying wood close to your body.
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