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Hobo Spiders ... What You Should Know!

 

Identification:

The Hobo Spider is a member of the funnel-web spider family Agelenidae. Funnel-web spiders are long-legged, swift-running spiders that build funnel or tube-shaped retreats. The Hobo Spider runs at an average speed of about .45 meters (17 inches) per second, with a maximum speed of about 1.1 meters (40 inches) per second.

The Hobo Spider has a brown cephalothorax (the front portion to which the legs are attached) and brown legs, with darker markings on the cephalothorax. The abdomen has a distinctive pattern of yellowish markings on a grayish background, although this pattern can be difficult to discern without the aid of a microscope or hand lens. The pattern is generally more discernible in immature specimens. Unlike many other similar looking spiders, Hobo spiders do not have darker bands (like multiple arm bands) on their legs. Spiders with such banding can be assumed not to be Hobo spiders. In outward appearance, the Hobo spider greatly resembles certain other members of the funnel-web spider family which are harmless or cause minor bite reactions. For this reason, identifications of suspected Hobo spiders should be confirmed by an entomologist or other persons trained in the identification of spiders.

 

Life Cycle:

There is some disagreement among researchers as to the length of the Hobo spider life cycle. Only one year may be required for a generation among coastal populations, while inland populations are believed to require two or three years for a generation. The first eggs are laid in about mid-September, with one to four egg sacs produced at intervals of about one to four weeks. Fewer eggs are produced if food is limited or if temperatures are cooler than normal. Cold temperatures eventually terminate the production of eggs by the females.

The egg stage overwinters and egg hatch occurs in the Spring. The immature spiders develop for the next year, reaching maturity after the following Spring. Males mature from June - September, and females in late June and July - September. Males see females for mating from late June - October with most dying before October. Females lay eggs in fall to early winter and then die from late fall to early Spring.

 

Behavior

Hobo spiders are most commonly encountered in June - September when males wander in search of females. For this reason, most bites occur during July - September. Females of the species tend to stay in their webs and are not usually found running about.

The supposed aggressivness of the Hobo spider is debatable and may be a myth. Based on our experience with live specimens, they seem to be no more aggressive than any other similar spider, such as Grass spiders or Wolf Spiders. When trapped, their main interest seems to be escape, not fighting back. Based on bite reports and the number of specimens submitted, sac spiders are actually more prone to biting than are Hobo spiders, although the consequences of sac spider bites are uaully less serious.

 

Habitat

Hobo spiders prefer to utilize habitats that have holes, cracks, or recesses to support their funnel-like webs. Although they prefer to build funnel-like webs, some will occasionally produce flat webs in less suitable habitats. Hobo spiders are poor climbers and are rarely seen above ground level. Although some have been observed a few feet above floor level, most are seen running about on the floor.

Common habitats outdoors include rock retaining walls, cracks in soil or concrete, around foundations (especially those with tall grass adjacent), in window wells, in stacks of lumber, firewood, bricks, and under other objects on the ground surface such as, large rocks, boards, or other debris.

Indoors, the hobo spider is usually found only in basement or ground-floor levels of dwellings, since it is a poor climber. Suitable nesting areas include spaces between boxes or other items in storage, window sills, under baseboards or radiators, behind furniture, and in closets. Wandering males may occasionally become trapped in bedding, children's toys, bathtubs, or other locations they cannot escape from.

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