Hobo spiders are on the prowl
September 15, 2009
Hobo spiders are mating and the creepy crawlers are taking their search for the ladies indoors.
"The last couple weeks we have been getting quite a few calls just because the male spiders are out roaming around looking for mates," said Sterling Banks, Summit County’s Utah State University Extension Agent. "So people see them more commonly in their house."
For the furry arachnids September is the height of the mating season. Boyd Robinson said he kills hobo spiders daily at his North Summit home.
"Last night, I had only one," the 74-year-old said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "But I average, sometimes, up to three or four (per day.)"
They terrify his wife, Robinson said.
"Sometimes she doesn’t sleep well at night thinking about those ugly things," Robinson said.
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"When I see them I start screaming," Sue Robinson replied.
She is afraid the spiders will bite her.
"The hobo is supposed to be poisonous," Sue Robinson said. "I just don’t like spiders, period. I never have."
Her husband said he has trapped about 55 hobo spiders in less than two months.
"They’re terrible I kept spraying outside with a small sprayer, and I’ve tried to control them, but I haven’t done a very good job," Boyd Robinson said. "They’re a gray color with long legs, and if you look on the body, they’ve got some stripes on the back part of the body on the top that are kind of dark colored."
Hobo spiders, which vary in size depending on their age, can be more than a half-inch long. And their toxic bites can require medical attention.
"It can basically kill the skin in the area where the bite occurs," Banks explained.
Though not as poisonous as a black widow spider, a bite from a hobo spider is painful.
Right now hobo spiders can be found almost anywhere in Summit County, Banks said.
"Probably from now until maybe November is when I get the biggest influx of calls," Banks said. "I had a call a couple weeks ago and a lady said she had captured 25 of them in her basement in a two- or three-day period, and she wanted to know why all the sudden she had seen so many of them."
As fall approaches, hobo spiders, which are long-legged, swift-running funnel-web spiders, seek shelter in the basements of homes.
"It’s as bad this year as it has ever been," Boyd Robinson said. "Once in a while we’ll find one on the stairwell trying to come upstairs."
Banks recommends cleaning yard debris, especially grass piled against the house, to keep homes free of hobo spiders. Eliminating their habitat can reduce their numbers because hobo spiders prefer to live outside. Frequently clean closets, behind furniture and under baseboard heaters.
"Plug up the holes and caulk cracks," Banks said. "Sealing the entrance coming into the house is probably the best bet as far as a preventative type of deal."
A sticky cardboard trap set along a baseboard can catch spiders where they roam.
"It looks like a little tent and they follow that baseboard around and you’ll catch them," Boyd Robinson said.
Pesticides have also worked for getting rid of hobo spiders inside homes, Banks said.
"We’ll see them year-round. But during the summer months I really don’t get a big influx of calls," Banks said. "It’s when they start getting inside the house, and that’s in the fall."
Contact Banks for more information at the USU Extension Service in Coalville at 336-3219.