If they're hobos, shouldn't they be outside?
August 23, 2009 12:38 PM   Subscribe

I think there are hobo spiders in my house. How freaked out should I be? Time to call the exterminator?

We moved into a spiffy new house, the only down side so far being the large, brown, long-legged spiders that have come to join us in the basement TV nook three times in the past two weeks. I'm not normally squeamish and am happy to trap them and throw them outside. But these little bastards are brazen, seemingly unconcerned at our presence, even when I started making moves to trap it. One dropped directly onto Mrs. Ga$Money, also not a squeamish person, which made her move astonishingly fast. They seem to be coming across from the walled off, unfinished portion of our basement. A little google-fu suggests they're probably hobo spiders based on appearance. Sorry I don't have a photo, but I was too busy crushing the last little bastard with a plastic water bottle after it crawled across my Rock Band guitar strap. Anyway, long story short, how worried should I be? The websites I could find are inconclusive, but I'm mainly worried about a nasty bite or my adventurous Bengal cat getting ahold of one.
posted by ga$money to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I would put as many sticky traps as I could afford all over the house because they work really well, especially for hobo spiders. Under beds and couches, along walls behind furniture. And don't just let them outside because they will just come back in.

Usually when a house is new or recently cleaned for new occupants, the spiders take a while to establish themselves again. So you see a lot of spiders now? That's a bad sign. Get right on this and caulk any holes or gaps around windows that you find. Check if there is space around any cables coming into the house.
posted by cda at 12:50 PM on August 23, 2009

Probably not that helpful, but Wikipedia suggests that the best way to get rid of them is to get more spiders...

The more practical advice found in the NPS Integrated Pest Management manual [PDF] they link might be useful, though (see page 147ff).
posted by effbot at 1:00 PM on August 23, 2009

Hobo spiders are not really a big deal. They are actually your friends, because they eat other bugs. I'd let them be. If your cat gets one, he or she will probably eat it. Hobo spiders usually only bite when you accidentally grab or touch one. (photo would be helpful, hobo spiders usually don't like to be indoors...)

One problem that can occur when trying to 'control' a species is that another species will come in and take over, because the competition is not there.
posted by bolognius maximus at 1:09 PM on August 23, 2009

Seal off the outside, even small cracks. Spiders come in during times of cold and usually get trapped in the house. Brown spiders are fast, rove around, and walk on ceilings. Sticky traps are commonly used.
posted by Brian B. at 1:10 PM on August 23, 2009

I am anti-hobo spider as one bit my face while I was sleeping. Three weeks of suppurating, scabbing, intense pain later, I discovered my face now had some rather more character than it did before in the form of a pea-sized crater. It's not nearly as deep a decade later but it's still the most obvious defect on the face of a guy who had some pretty fabulous acne as a teen.

Anyway. I like the non-harmful spiders and let them "own" many areas of my house, keeping down the ant, drosophilia, fly and moth population... but these guys get the fast track to smashville.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:09 PM on August 23, 2009

I've always been told that hobos are much more common east of the Cascades, prefer outdoors to houses, and have several harmless indoor lookalikes.
posted by bunji at 10:34 PM on August 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

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