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Monday, September 15, 2014

Did You Know It's the Season When Giant House Spiders Walk Around Seattle Homes?

Posted by on Mon, Sep 15, 2014 at 10:27 AM

Originally posted last year, but I've bumped it up to this morning because—as new Stranger managing editor and Bay Area transplant Kathleen Richards discovered to her horror this weekend—this is the time of year when the Pacific Northwest-dwelling Giant House Spider wants to hang out with you.

I didn't know about the Giant House Spider until last night, when Alison Holcomb—the ACLU lawyer best known for running an initiative that legalized pot last fall—decided to post this photo from inside her bathroom on my Facebook wall:

  • Alison Holcomb
  • Eeeeeeeaaaaaahhhk!

Holcomb asked for advice about what to do with a creature with a leg span of four or five inches. I am an admitted arachnophobe. I did not provide advice. I closed Facebook. Then I called her today to find out if she survived.

"It appears to be the Giant House Spider—it's aptly named," said Holcomb.

The GHS (Tegenaria duellica or T. gigantea) originally lived in Europe, but it "was unwittingly introduced to the Pacific Northwest of North America circa 1900," according to Wikipdedia. The Woodland Park Zoo adds that the fuckers can hustle at an astonishing 1.73 feet per second—making them the fastest spider in the world. And they dart through your house AT THIS TIME OF YEAR. The zoo says the "best time to see" them is in "late summer, when wandering males search for females."

Or as Holcomb puts it, "They come out running around your house looking to score."

Holcomb told me what happened: "He ran across the bathroom floor in my direction. So I jumped up and then he was hiding behind the toilet for a little bit. I was looking at him, talking to him, and I was like, 'Dude, you cannot come back over here.' Then he went back behind shelf system in the bathroom. I didn't go back there because he's fast and he could run over my feet. Then I went to sleep. What I didn't know before I went to bed is that is that, if this is correct, they are nocturnal. It was not smart of me to go to bed when I didn't know what he was up to."

Holcomb still hasn't caught him. "I just want him to go wherever and not appear again—ever. Just go ahead eat mosquitoes and moths. He is too big to squish."

Holcomb isn't alone.

On Sunday and Monday nights, there was a GHS over the bed of Stranger music editor Emily Nokes.

"It woke me up because I could hear it," Nokes says. "I thought there was a rat. It was an audible scraping noise coming from what I thought was inside the wall. But I turned on the lamp and saw what I thought was a shadow of a spider because it looked bigger than a spider. It was insanely big. I didn't even know how to kill it because it was so big. And it was on the ceiling, so I didn't want to whack at it and have it drop on me. It ran back into the wall and then it made the scraping noise again. I turned on every light in the room. Then the next night, I was up late working on the Bumbershoot guide at about 2:30 a.m. when I saw it, so I slept on the couch that night. On Tuesday, I marched down to the store and got the most crazy-looking spider spray I could find, and I shot all of it into every crack along the ceiling, and it has not come back yet. But then I thought: giant carcass. What if the giant spider carcass fall on me in the night?"

Good question.

PS — I was unsure whether to post the terrifying giant spider photo above the jump, but Paul said, "The only person who would complain about it is you." Paul is right. Sorry, everyone.


Comments (137) RSS

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Are you sure it's not a hobo spider?…

They've been gradually invading the PNW.

I get bites every year. The first time it was horrible, felt like the worst flu I ever had and lasted 6 weeks.

I still get bit every year, but the result is more short-lived now.

(By the way, they now have iPhone apps that do what plant Peterson's Guides used to...let you look up flora by image and identify. Maybe they have one for fauna as well ?)
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on August 22, 2013 at 5:13 PM · Report this
holy god. i never want to see that again. or read the words "audible scraping noise" associated with a spider.
Posted by earwig on August 22, 2013 at 5:16 PM · Report this
Gordon Werner 4
Seeing spiders isn't the problem. It's when they disappear from view. Then worry
Posted by Gordon Werner on August 22, 2013 at 5:19 PM · Report this
Jason Josephes 5
You know, I always prided myself on not being scared of spiders. But it appears those days just ended.
Posted by Jason Josephes on August 22, 2013 at 5:22 PM · Report this
seatackled 6
Pictures or it didn't happen.

Er, I mean, Fake!

Seriously, though, are these poisonous? I think that's the main worry I would have. If not, then I would want to have it stick around eating bugs.

If they're not poisonous, and you want to get rid of it, a cat is possible solution.
Posted by seatackled on August 22, 2013 at 5:24 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 7
I saw those all the time when I lived in a basement apartment on Queen Anne. Most of the time, I did catch and release, but my last summer in that apartment was so bad, I just killed them on sight.
Posted by keshmeshi on August 22, 2013 at 5:26 PM · Report this
Gern Blanston 8
Then the spider said "I'm going to come and harass you where you work too."
Posted by Gern Blanston on August 22, 2013 at 5:26 PM · Report this
@1 you get hobo spider bites EVERY YEAR? Are you hanging out in a hobo spider nest?

@6 I don't believe they're particularly dangerous, but I'm too terrified to Google it...
Posted by mhulot on August 22, 2013 at 5:28 PM · Report this
If it was climbing anything it was very likely not a Hobo spider. They're not much on climbing. Also they feed on Hobos, so should let it live to protect you. Also @1, you shouldn't be getting a fever from a Hobo bite. You should have a doctor check that out, or actually catch what bit you, because it's more likely something else.
Posted by Jesse on August 22, 2013 at 5:30 PM · Report this
very bad homo 11

Posted by very bad homo on August 22, 2013 at 5:36 PM · Report this
@6 @9 FFS, just check out the wikipedia link in the original article: "The bite of this species does not pose a threat to humans or pets."
Posted by Paul F on August 22, 2013 at 5:37 PM · Report this
I killed one of these today - wore my wooden platform shoes and took it out with the wooden side of a I could keep the 3 foot distance when it fell. The thing actually jumped!
Posted by HandleShmandle on August 22, 2013 at 5:38 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 14
Well, of course they walk around Seattle homes.

They can't walk through them, since they can't open the doors.

That said, it's the Lyme disease from ticks you have to worry about, not the (mostly non-poisonous) spiders.
Posted by Will in Seattle on August 22, 2013 at 5:40 PM · Report this
MajordomoPicard 15
Way to go, dipshits who kill Giant House Spiders. They out-compete and even kill the might-actually-pose-a-threat-to-humans Hobo Spider. But eeeeek, right?
Posted by MajordomoPicard on August 22, 2013 at 5:45 PM · Report this
stirwise 16
That sure has the markings of a hobo spider, but do they get that big? I usually see them outside this time of year and I've never seen them bigger than 2 or 3 inches in legspan.
I'm not a terribly squeamish person, but that spider picture, plus the "too big to squish" and the audible scraping noise have me wanting to literally crawl out of my skin. I want to claw at my eyes and just go run around as a naked skeleton. I've never been so squicked in my life, and I used to handle severed human body parts for a living. The horror.
Posted by stirwise on August 22, 2013 at 5:48 PM · Report this
I used to be scared of spiders, but at some point realized it is shitty not to regard them as the cool products of evolution that they are. I am truly not scared of spiders anymore, and we abide by a firm catch and release policy at our house. YOU CAN GET OVER IT!
Posted by Racing Turtles on August 22, 2013 at 5:50 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 18
#1 almost ALL spiders in the temperate zones can not puncture human skin with their fangs, they are just not that powerful. A "spider bite" as so many like to think of them are often flea bites or mosquitoes. Spiders as a rule do not bite humans, like they do in the movies.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on August 22, 2013 at 5:50 PM · Report this
Mary P. Traverse 19
@8 FTW
Posted by Mary P. Traverse on August 22, 2013 at 5:51 PM · Report this
Here's the deal on Giant House Spiders. They are not aggressive, and VERY, VERY, RARELY bite - even when handled, according to the UW Burke Museum website on the topic. They generally like to stay out of view, making funnel webs in dark and undisturbed corners, etc., unless they're "looking to score".

As for Hobo's...we don't have them in the Seattle area, but they can be found in Eastern Washington. Giant House Spiders are related to Hobo's but are not poisonous, or aggressive. They will, however, push out Hobo spiders if sharing habitat's.

I'm a preschool teacher and have done a lot of research on House Spiders because they're so prevalent here. We've captured them for class observation, and kept them fed and happy.

My advice, ignore them and they'll ignore you.
Posted by ballardgirl64 on August 22, 2013 at 5:51 PM · Report this
Hobos don't get huge like that. If you're ever unsure of whether a Tegenaria-type spider is or isn't a hobo, you can catch it inside a plastic bag and gently spread it out under a lamp. If it has stripey legs, it's not a hobo. If it has a ring of dots around its "chest", it's not a hobo. If neither of those things are true, go ahead and kill it.
Posted by Valkyrie on August 22, 2013 at 5:56 PM · Report this
stirwise 22
@20: I've seen hobo spiders in Seattle. According to the internet, they've got a goodly chunk of the PNW covered, including Western Washington.
King County even has a page on hobo spiders:…
Posted by stirwise on August 22, 2013 at 6:00 PM · Report this
Hey @20, I'm on Bainbridge and I once sent a spider to the extension folks to get confirmation that it was, yep, definitely a hobo. I wouldn't count on not having hobos in Seattle proper.
Posted by Valkyrie on August 22, 2013 at 6:02 PM · Report this
My preferred anti-spider tool is the vacuum cleaner! Let them starve in the bag/cylinder. Of course it terrifies me to think of them growing big in there.
Posted by hotairinky on August 22, 2013 at 6:05 PM · Report this
ScienceNerd 25
I had one in my house a few years ago. The cats were extremely happy about it.

I also saw one walking down the sidewalk. I kid you not.
Posted by ScienceNerd on August 22, 2013 at 6:15 PM · Report this
Puty 27
Spiders are cool. I like them.
Posted by Puty on August 22, 2013 at 6:29 PM · Report this
We used to have them around on a regular basis. Then we got a cat whose greatest joy in life was hunting house spiders. Now we don't see them very often.
Posted by cracked on August 22, 2013 at 6:37 PM · Report this
Posted by Julie in Eugene on August 22, 2013 at 6:38 PM · Report this
Merciful heavens. I have seen kittens smaller than that thing. I don't object to giant garden spiders, but I do object to Giant House Spiders. And I most especially object to giant Slog spiders. Those are the worst.
Posted by alight on August 22, 2013 at 6:44 PM · Report this
JonnoN 31
It's comin' right for us! *blam**blam**blam**blam*
Posted by JonnoN on August 22, 2013 at 7:26 PM · Report this
Simone 32
I killed one several days ago in the bathroom. It was hiding behind the sink cabinet. Also, my father killed one in a spare bedroom. I swear I've seen some big ones around the old home and even swear that one crawled across my hand one night while I was on the floor watching TV. Though I didn't actually see it and it might have been my imagination/nerves acting up.

Oh, and about cats taking care of spiders. As long as you don't have a armenian/persian/afghan rug with the stylish designs that make great spider camouflage the cats should be able to see the spider. One morning/afternoon along time ago I saw a house spider moving around on my parents Armenian rug and the cat was sitting right in front of me and didn't even notice the spider who was clearly moving around. I had to take care of the spider myself.
Posted by Simone on August 22, 2013 at 7:34 PM · Report this
rob! 33
I didn't know about the Giant House Spider until last night...
Willful amnesia on Dominic's part.
Posted by rob! on August 22, 2013 at 7:39 PM · Report this
Dom, if we are in the same room, and one of those things shows up, it will be a race to see who can exit fastest. I am a 52 year old woman, who doesn't run very well, but that will be good enough motivation that I'm pretty sure I'll beat your ass. Especially if that thing starts moving. Now I am shuddering. Thanks for nothing.
Posted by SeattleKim on August 22, 2013 at 7:44 PM · Report this
Red_Ruth 35
Desperately trying to avoid seeing that picture, which should be after the jump, in order to avoid triggering. And I still already have terrible creepy-crawlies all over me, thanks so much.
Posted by Red_Ruth on August 22, 2013 at 7:55 PM · Report this
Dominic Holden 36
@33) Oh my god, you're right.
Posted by Dominic Holden on August 22, 2013 at 8:04 PM · Report this
re hobo spiders: "
This spider is thought to have a necrotic venom, similar to the brown recluse spider (Loxosceles reclusa). However, the "jury is still out" on this fact; the research results that were used to report the necrotic effects of the venom have not been consistently reproduced. It may or may not be as dangerous as people have been led to believe... just be mindful and use caution when dealing with these spiders. [update 7/18/2011] A paper published in the Journal of Medical Entomology in March 2011 states this in its ending paragraph "
Posted by cracked on August 22, 2013 at 8:27 PM · Report this
I'm afraid to turn my head.
Posted by jt on August 22, 2013 at 8:35 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 39
it helps to think of them as robots just running a spider program. rodents are way worse, and why anyone would keep them as pets mystifies me.
Posted by Max Solomon on August 22, 2013 at 8:37 PM · Report this
TomJohnsonJr 40
I believe my feeling toward spiders the closest I've been to experiencing what the "nice" fundamentalists must feel toward us LGBT types.

In my mind I know they are harmless, even helpful, just trying to live their lives in peace. Yet I have to keep myself from swatting at them. I have learned enough to not kill them, but if I find one in my house I will not sleep until I've shooed it out and locked the door.
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on August 22, 2013 at 8:41 PM · Report this
McBomber 41
Sorry, spider lovers, but inside the house? Dead. Outside? Go about your business. Luckily we've got the Deadly Cat Assassination Squad to take care of most of the indoor dirty work. Yesterday we found eight disembodied legs sprawled in a circle on the carpet. A warning to other spiders?
Posted by McBomber on August 22, 2013 at 9:02 PM · Report this
That's not a hobo. Hobos do bite, and their bites can cause lasting neurological problems. Perhaps that could account for Supreme Head's posts.
Posted by sarah70 on August 22, 2013 at 9:11 PM · Report this
@33: thanks rob! soon as saw this post I was thinking "didn't have a post about them a year or so ago?"

@42: neurological damage from a spider bite is as plausible an explanation as any for Supreme's delusions.
Posted by gnossos on August 22, 2013 at 9:30 PM · Report this
didn't Dom*
Posted by gnossos on August 22, 2013 at 9:31 PM · Report this
mr. herriman 45
i can have conversations about spiders but, for the love of god! that photo definitely should be below the jump!
Posted by mr. herriman on August 22, 2013 at 9:43 PM · Report this
delirian 46
@15: It isn't a native species. It needs to be killed.

My first introduction to one of these spiders was when I was studying at UW. I dropped a large physics textbook on one from elbow height, and the textbook bounced off! The spider then ran off into my bathroom. After 5 minutes of the hibbily-jibbilies, I finally took the textbook and jumped on it at the same time.
Posted by delirian on August 22, 2013 at 9:56 PM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 48
I say we take off and nuke the site from orbit.

It's the only way to be sure.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on August 22, 2013 at 10:03 PM · Report this
rob! 49
@40 "...locked the door."

Ahahahahaha... Those long skinny legs ARE THE PERFECT LOCK PICKS!
Posted by rob! on August 22, 2013 at 10:08 PM · Report this
TreGibbs 50
@48 FTW !!
Posted by TreGibbs on August 22, 2013 at 10:21 PM · Report this
I just killed one of these 2 days ago!!!! Took pictures and even a video!!! eeeeeeekkkkk!!!
Posted by PLD on August 22, 2013 at 10:36 PM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 52
The rational part of my brain tells me they are perfectly harmless to people and they eat other bugs, so they are actually beneficial to have in the house.

The animal part of my brain wants to scream like a little girl, and cower in terror.

The animal part of my brain always kicks in first when I see a big assed spider like that. It's a toss up whether or not the rational part of my brain can assert itself before I kill the fucking monster.
Posted by Reverse Polarity on August 22, 2013 at 10:39 PM · Report this
Fnarf 53
Imagine what it would be like to wake up with this fella on your face, one leg resting on the corner of your lip. Or dropping onto your lap while you're sitting on the toilet. Or crawling out onto your waiting towel while you shower.
Posted by Fnarf on August 22, 2013 at 10:44 PM · Report this
All of you shut up and read this, a guide written by people with doctorates on the beasts :

You're all so misinformed, it's damn depressing.

Most dermatological wounds and the like are either the result of a blood sucking insects bite being scratched an then getting infected or the afflicted having the poor luck that a particular opportunistic bacterial disease getting a good foothold in the dermis.

People attribute these to spiders because they were rooting through spider infested areas like wood piles, and don't stop to consider that they probably got the infection from a scratch against the woodpile or the like.
Posted by caltrop_head on August 22, 2013 at 10:48 PM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 55
I love these guys! They're harmless and impressive. Ya'all are so lucky. In 19 years in Seattle, I've only had one in my house three or four times. I haven't seen one in several years, sad to say. We've got lots of pholcid spiders that have legs almost as long, but they're scrawny little things that just cower in their webs.
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on August 22, 2013 at 11:00 PM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 56
Also impressive: Alison Holcomb's bathroom décor may actually be crustier than ours.
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on August 22, 2013 at 11:06 PM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 57
More spider bite curmudgeonliness:

See the table halfway down the page headed: "Conditions that have been misdiagnosed as brown recluse spider bites as reported in the medical literature"
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on August 22, 2013 at 11:11 PM · Report this
Dom, how can you live in Seattle and not have come across these? Our MadValley house is overrun every August and September. Thankfully mostly smaller juveniles on a daily basis, but at least once a week there's a huge juicy one lurking in some corner somewhere. And they do run, FAST. The crawl space under our house is a no-go zone during those months. They easily navigate walls, carpet, tile, and even the water in a toilet bowl, to my absolute horror.

But my pest-control-expert-dad says they help keep the smaller local Hobo spider population in check, and they are relatively harmless to humans, so I try to let them be. As long as I don't actually catch them indoors, in which case, they must die. If I can catch them. And if there is no possibility of them jumping on my or touching me in any way.
Posted by Quincent on August 22, 2013 at 11:18 PM · Report this
I heart my giant banana spiders that set up shop around my house this time of year.. all are named Nana-Mama... they eat mosquitoes, flies and roaches like they are going out of style...
Posted by kylecheez on August 22, 2013 at 11:29 PM · Report this
Jaymz 60
Years ago, while living on the Big Island in Hawaii, cane spiders nearly as big as your hand would invade my house when nearby sugar cane fields were burned, also making audible noises when scampering along the walls - this has given me creepy flashbacks.
Posted by Jaymz on August 22, 2013 at 11:32 PM · Report this
this guy I know in Spokane 61
When I was growing up in Seattle, we would sometimes see one of those things late at night while watching TV. It would zoom out of the darkness of the front hallway, cover 18 feet of TV room carpet, and vanish into the darkness of the dining room before you could say "holy shit." We knew they were harmless, but it turned whatever we were watching into a super suspenseful giant-monster-spider movie.
Posted by this guy I know in Spokane on August 22, 2013 at 11:42 PM · Report this
Thanks @54 and @55

People are way over reacting to these spiders. Go ahead and kill them because they are unsightly and frighten you, but don't justify your killing by touting their dangerousness.

The native / nonnative issue with these species is kind of a lost cause, so that is a shitty justification too. If you want to kill - kill honestly.
Posted by cracked on August 23, 2013 at 12:07 AM · Report this
chaseacross 63
I clocked one of these things the other day -- you know a spider is big when you can hear it hit the ground after you kill it.
Posted by chaseacross on August 23, 2013 at 12:26 AM · Report this
MajordomoPicard 64
@46 Gee, by your stellar 'logic', humans aren't a native species here either, so I guess we're next!
Posted by MajordomoPicard on August 23, 2013 at 1:18 AM · Report this
delirian 65
@64: No, I'm a conservationist. This means keeping the environment in a useful condition for humans. And it also means annihilating invasive species. And opposing invasive species does not make a person a hypocrite just because humans live in the same area, asshole.
Posted by delirian on August 23, 2013 at 2:29 AM · Report this

This is one of those very rare occasions when I am grateful for hearing loss.
Posted by drawn on August 23, 2013 at 5:14 AM · Report this
and @8 FTW!
Posted by drawn on August 23, 2013 at 5:16 AM · Report this
--MC 68
I'm afraid I've killed a few, over the years. I don't like to kill spiders, they are noble beasts, but if one runs at me as I'm trying to woggle it outside on the end of a sketchbook, I will scream like Fay Wray and smush the bastard.
Posted by --MC on August 23, 2013 at 7:07 AM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 69
When I moved here I killed them all in a holy jihad. Last night I shooed a couple away in the basement. Leave them be, they are spiderbros that hunt and kill worse shit. Giant house spiders kill and eat recluses, widows, and other bastards you DON'T want in the house. They come inside this time of year looking for romance and mating. Light a candle, put out a little wine, play some Barry White, and let spiderbros find their spiderhos.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on August 23, 2013 at 7:09 AM · Report this
sissoucat 70
Re the hobo spiders tegenaria agrestis. Don't you find it a little bit strange that, in the US, they are known to bite a lot, their bite is poisonous and can cause necrosis, while in Europe, they are known to almost never bite, and in a thousand years of recorded history and folk wisdom, they were never ever considered as dangerous ? Could it be that the North American hobo spider has become a lot more aggressive following its installation in the US ?

Anyway, the best way to keep the small hobo spiders out of your house is to encourage the giant version tegenaria duellica, also called tegenaria gigantea, to come and settle inside your house, or right outside, like in your roof or under your house. Because they EAT hobo spiders.

Every autumn, some males (they have big pseudopalps, all covered in spider semen, females have little ones) do come and visit my house, and I take great care to capture them (an upturned plastic cup and a paper work great) and to put them back outside, since I don't have any females settled inside. And yes, when they walk on paper it makes an audible scraping noise, and it's a bit creepy ! When female have settled, they very rarely travel outside of their funnel web, usually installed near a source of light, like an always closed window, or a door - they're not cumbersome companions.
Posted by sissoucat on August 23, 2013 at 7:44 AM · Report this
sissoucat 71
Also, don't worry about not finding the hidden male spider.

Either he's found romance but wasn't quick enough, and has been eaten by the lady of his choice, or he survived and found the way out by himself. Male spiders roam the land in search of females in autumn, they're absolutely not looking for a permanent home.
Posted by sissoucat on August 23, 2013 at 7:50 AM · Report this
sissoucat 72
@58 Quincent - giant tegenaria are completely harmless, non poisonous, don't attack humans, and don't know how to jump. The worse they can do is run very fast away from you. If you're chasing them on the ceiling, or on a wall, they may fall vertically down on the floor, in a panicky bid to escape you.

They will never knowingly touch you. It takes a lot of someone repetedly touching and bothering one to entice it into biting - they don't bite if you're just letting them freely crawl on your hands. And the bite only feels like being punctured by a thin pin.
Posted by sissoucat on August 23, 2013 at 8:08 AM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 73
@60 Whoa. Even I could do without large scale invasions. I'll take my crazy spiders one or two at a time, thanks!
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on August 23, 2013 at 8:34 AM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 75
@65 These guys are endemic in King County now. Smacking a few in our houses will no more eliminate them than electrifying my bird feeder to fry starlings at the press of a button would clear them from North America. If you enjoy pounding on them, go ahead, but it's not going to matter.

@69 There are no recluse spiders on the west coast.
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on August 23, 2013 at 8:43 AM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 76
@70 "...covered in spider semen"? That sounds awfully sloppy. I prefer to think that they have an elegant semen decanter on their palps.

(For those who don't usually befriend spiders: right by their faces, spiders have a fifth pair of small limbs called pedipalps. Take a close look, and if they just look cylindrical at the end (lacking much swelling, like cat's paws) it's either a female or immature male. If there is a bulbous structure of some sort, it's a mature male sporting semen decanters. Males load these up from the testis in their bellies, then carry the goodies around looking for a female to serve it up to.)
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on August 23, 2013 at 8:56 AM · Report this
hotmomma 77
Let's just take a moment and count our blessings that spiders don't fly!
Posted by hotmomma on August 23, 2013 at 9:11 AM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 78
@76 what about brown widows or black widows? I was positive I saw something dark brown/black with the form factor of one of them in my garage this spring. It was completely physically inaccessible to reach so I blasted it from a distance with Raid.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on August 23, 2013 at 9:19 AM · Report this
Hobo spiders have visible "paps" that look kind of like bulbous fangs in the front. This spider does not.
Posted by ashlew on August 23, 2013 at 9:23 AM · Report this
Good god. That photo is offensive. I actually killed a half-dead one this morning. I don't like to ever kill spiders but this one had to go away.
Posted by mitten on August 23, 2013 at 10:03 AM · Report this
Also, whoever said house/garden spiders don't bite is FULL OF SHIT. I've been bitten THREE times in the garden this summer. THREE! All three times I screamed (spider bites freaking HURT), looked down or behind (two were on my foot and one was on my lower back) and kicked or swatted a spider away. And twice it was Daddy Longlegs spiders. Yes, I have read their tiny mouths are "physically unable to bite humans" and "their venom is so lethal it would kill you." That is some urban legend bullshit. I know what a Daddy Longlegs looks like and my garden is full of them. My garden spiders are seeking revenge and they are BITING.
Posted by mitten on August 23, 2013 at 10:09 AM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 83
@78 Wikipedia implies that we do have black widows in the PNW, but I don't think I've ever seen one. There is a spider that has a similar shape but is more of a chocolate brown or reddish brown, but doesn't have a bad bite. I think they're smaller than a true black widow (a female black widow is pretty big, about 5/8" head and body). I've taken a hard look at a few suspects I've run across and guessed that these were what I was seeing, not black widows.…
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on August 23, 2013 at 10:09 AM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 84
@79 All male spiders have bulbous palps. The pedipalps are not visible in the photo because they are under the head from that angle, so we can't easily sex Alison's spider.
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on August 23, 2013 at 10:13 AM · Report this
Nice Times article about the myth of night time spider bites.…
Posted by patbareb on August 23, 2013 at 10:39 AM · Report this
ArtBasketSara 86
Sweet home Allllberta! The only thing keeping me up last night was a lone mosquito...and I won that battle... I do have a large-small spider with a big web on my balcony but we're friends (except for that one time I unwittingly stuck my big stupid head through it's artfully crafted home).

In my years living on Vancouver Island, I only saw a spider this size once...which was sufficient I think.
Posted by ArtBasketSara on August 23, 2013 at 11:02 AM · Report this
@33 @36

clearly, arachnophobes shouldn't be authorized to write articles regarding spiders. the writer should be someone with proper curiosity (not that "know the enemy" horseshit), or at least someone who knows someone, and the editor should be a relatively neutral party who can remove gratuitous triggers.
Posted by TheNuszAbides on August 23, 2013 at 12:37 PM · Report this
You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me 88
News Flash!
Filthy house has large pests!
Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me on August 23, 2013 at 12:47 PM · Report this
Dougsf 89
While spending some time at a house on Kauai, I learned the fine art of big-ass spider catch-and-release.

The Cane Spider. They were about the size of my hand. Trap under clear Tupperware bowl, then slide a thin piece of cardboard under them, flip, and gently set in yard and remove cardboard lid (running away with your arms waving, if appropriate).

I knew they were "good" pest, but fuck, I gotta get some sleep. Which reminds me... hang on...
Posted by Dougsf on August 23, 2013 at 12:54 PM · Report this
Dougsf 90

Found lurking on a surfboard in a garage in Mexico. It had a body about the size of a crayfish, ran kinda like a spider, and those feelers probably extended about a foot each.
Posted by Dougsf on August 23, 2013 at 1:02 PM · Report this
(a number of years ago) one of these came strolling into the kitchen; my roommate and i put her in a large, roomy, jar with leaf and twig amenities. she proceeded to kill and eat absolutely ever bug and critter we threw in with her. she made a giant egg sack, but because she ate every one of her suitors the eggs never hatched. she was one of my best pets ever!
Posted by bsweek on August 23, 2013 at 1:05 PM · Report this
Fnarf is pretty much dead to me after having read his post.
Posted by Sam on August 23, 2013 at 2:37 PM · Report this
stirwise 93
@90: That appears to be a tailless whipscorpion. I think they're harmless. You're welcome!
Posted by stirwise on August 23, 2013 at 3:15 PM · Report this
sirkowski 94
I could never go back to sleep knowing that fucking thing is still in the house.
Posted by sirkowski on August 23, 2013 at 3:21 PM · Report this
Dougsf 95
@93 THANK YOU. I took that picture maybe 3 years ago, and it's been bugging (wacka wacka!) me ever since.

The tailless whipscorpion is one crazy little beast.
Posted by Dougsf on August 23, 2013 at 3:34 PM · Report this
Alicia 96
@21: "If you're ever unsure of whether a Tegenaria-type spider is or isn't a hobo, you can catch it inside a plastic bag and gently spread it out under a lamp."


I can admire spiders of every species -- from a distance. A large, comfortable, non-touching distance. It is good to know that the GHS will triumph over its more vicious cousins, because hobos/recluses are my nightmares. (I lived in Eastern Washington for a few years and count myself fortunate to have escaped unscathed.)

Not long after I moved back to Seattle, I got a rather obnoxiously large and itchy double bite that seemed questionable, so I thought in my naivete to Google 'brown recluse bite.' With SafeSearch off. I do not at all recommend that anybody do this, ever -- though admittedly I felt rather better about my itchy bite after that.
Posted by Alicia on August 23, 2013 at 5:08 PM · Report this
Calico Cat 97
A huge one of these was in my mailbox when I opened it one time. Despite being a veteran of catching spiders in cups and releasing them outside when I find them inside, I admit it -- I screamed. Mostly because I was startled, though.
Posted by Calico Cat on August 23, 2013 at 7:03 PM · Report this
blackhook 98
My preferred anti-spider tool is the vacuum cleaner! Let them starve in the bag/cylinder. Of course it terrifies me to think of them growing big in there.

@24, when you do that, the spider will just walk back out the other way. Then he will hunt you down & show you no mercy!
Posted by blackhook on August 23, 2013 at 7:09 PM · Report this
sissoucat 100
@82 The Daddy Longlegs I know in Europe, pholcus phalangioides, live inside the house, walk slowly and never ever bite. Could you identify more the species of your biting garden spiders, using wikipedia ?

I have currently more than a dozen of pholcus phalangioides on my ceilings, and we live very peacefully together. Whenever one tries coming down in the day, I push it up with my hand and they go back to hanging up there. I usually let the shower down the tub so that they're not trapped when they come down looking for water during the night.

@89 that's my method too.

@97 I was raised to freak out about spiders, so despite all my education since, I still have an irrationnal reaction of fear at first sight of a spider, unlike bees and wasps. I decided not to transmit this stupid phobia further, so I'm always acting totally serene in capturing spiders in public. And it works !

When my youngest came to me one day, very proud of having succeeded in getting a spider to walk on his head, I felt a bit tense and answered : "be a good chap, release this poor beast back outside ; it's not a circus animal, you might hurt it in a sudden move, and it's probably very afraid". I did cringe inside when he said "ok mum" and grabbed it quite calmly from his head by hand.
Posted by sissoucat on August 24, 2013 at 7:05 AM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 101
@100 When Americans say "daddy-long-legs," they almost always mean the animal which I think the Brits call the "harvestman." It's not a true spider.

They don't look all that similar to me, but the proportions of the DLL and the pholcid are not too much different. Their behaviors are completely different (DLLs don't make a web, pholcids never leave theirs), so it would be hard to confuse them if one actually looked at what the animal was doing for one fucking second.
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on August 24, 2013 at 9:23 AM · Report this
bugwitch 102
If you find one of those would anyone willing to collect it, freeze it and then mail it to me at my lab?
Posted by bugwitch on August 24, 2013 at 1:24 PM · Report this
Michael of the Green 103
The worst is when they scrape down the walls, skitter over your headboard and -- attracted by the warm, moist breath -- climb into your mouth and lay eggs along your gums at the backside of your teeth. Nobody likes this.
Posted by Michael of the Green on August 24, 2013 at 1:44 PM · Report this
sissoucat 104
@101 Opilions, really ? Those don't bite, they are as harmless as having some hair on your skin. They're not spiders, and they're mostly scavengers. If there's something I would never mind of having crawling on my skin, it's an opilion.

They have a distressing habit of losing their legs if touched, and they're so unaware of their surroundings you have to really take care of them and remove them from under your tools when gardening, as they don't run away from man. If #82 had opilions on him/her, they were not the ones that were biting him/her. Maybe they had come to make a meal of the biting bugs.

@103 Ah ah, but do you know all the ways of the infamous mouth spider ?

The females specifically target snorers' mouths to lay their eggs in, for good ventilation day and night. They test for it by remaining motionless for a few minutes, spreadeagled over the mouth opening, concentrating on the vibrations.

Like lice eggs, mouth spider eggs are so small and sticky it's very hard to realize they're here, and it's even harder to brush them off. So, for about two weeks, the eggs safely develop in the host's mouth.

On a dark night, they hatch. Slowly they gather, crawl on the tongue and head for the back throat, then into their host's nose. They head for the sinuses to escape from the fiery winds of the snore. They remain cautiously there during daytime, feeding on the sinuses' lining, only causing a mild headache to their bearer.

From then on, every night they'll crawl inside the nose, trying to locate the opening of the eustachian tube, as soon as the snores stop. Only in intermittent snorers have they a good chance of success. Because the mouth spiders are deaf and see poorly, like all spiders, their mothers can't check from their few minutes on the mouth opening whether they've picked a good intermittent snorer host or a bad continuous snorer host. Many a mouth spider youngling die from overgrowing in the cramped bone space of the sinuses of permanent snorers, and their remains accumulate there.

Once inside the eustachian tube, the young mouth spiders progress to the inner ear where they FEED for about a week. The only symptom of their presence is a buzzing in the ears and some hearing loss. Then, once again at night, they incise the tympanon, and finally emerge as fatter, fully competent mouth spiders, ready to fend from themselves alone in this harsh world.

The consequences to the snorer hosts are minimal. Because of the hearing loss, they can't hear themselves snore.
Posted by sissoucat on August 24, 2013 at 4:10 PM · Report this
Michael of the Green 105
@104 Yay, the limited scope of my dreamscape gum-line egg-layers shall surely broaden in the fertile imagery of your mouth spiders. Thanks for that.
Posted by Michael of the Green on August 24, 2013 at 4:34 PM · Report this
Fuck it. I'm getting a house gecko.
Posted by PCM on August 25, 2013 at 12:13 AM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 107
@104 Yeah, the story about the DLL @82 makes no sense. The only tiny critter that gave me a bite that painful is a deer fly.

Your mouth spider report is most interesting. I snore badly and have some tinnitus (prob due to too many rawk show in my late teens and early twenties), but my hearing is normal, so I guess I'm not infested.
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on August 25, 2013 at 9:10 AM · Report this
sissoucat 108
@105 I just loved your comments ! Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery :-)

@107 Oh, but you might be ! Hearing loss is only a proof that spiders got out of your tympanon alive, its absence just means that they haven't yet eaten enough of your inner ear !

Maybe they are right now inside you, creeping in the eustachian tube, heading for the inner ear... Or maybe it took them too long to find the opening of the eustachian tube, and they had grown a bit too much, and they died on their way to the tympanon, stuck inside the tube, with their legs rammed around their bodies... and their exoskeletons are still there, and your tinnitus is caused by one of their body parts that stuck into your auditory bundle of nerves ?

Sweet dreams...
Posted by sissoucat on August 25, 2013 at 5:09 PM · Report this
109, these things were here before us, and our houses are awfully comfy. So, if they squick you out real bad, let's get to preventing them. The easiest defense is to seal things up. Sure, sure, you rent, but your landlord is probably not going to come to your rescue for every little crack and opening, so buy theeself some door sweeps, some stick-on foam door/window insulation, and some silicone caulk and get to sealing up. It's not hard and all together won't set you back more than $20.

If you have a crack you can't seal up easily, or keep finding the buggers after sealing, then invest in a little peppermint oil and osage orange. No need to go all rambo on them, some natural shit, properly deployed, will repel them right good. Plus, your house will smell DELICIOUS.

Also, regularly and thoroughly clean baseboards (yes, even behind the furniture), keep clutter to a minimum, and knock out any webs you find promptly. "Things" only inhabit our homes if we let them be hospitable. Yes, climate control *is* attractive in and of itself, but if there's no food and they're repelled by scents that annoy them and they don't easily find a way in and they're constantly annoyed by having their home vacuumed up then they'll move on.

Or just get a cat...they'll torture the MFer before, maybe, killing it cleanly.
Posted by Ms. D on August 25, 2013 at 9:03 PM · Report this
Or @106...a free-range lizard will likely cure any and all bug problems promptly. :)
Posted by Ms. D on August 25, 2013 at 9:04 PM · Report this
Know why I found this site? Cuz I stepped on one with bare feet in my bathroom. Screamed like a little girl. Worst part was when I felt some thing cold under my foot I jerked it up and it still ran away (that's when I screamed!) Anyway I was afraid it was a hobo but I think the marking lead to the Giant Friggin House Spider. I hate spiders and can only imagine the scraping noise was the spider sharpening its fangs... Shiver...
Posted by Sazqwatch on August 26, 2013 at 12:10 AM · Report this
sissoucat 113

The scraping noise is made by the two or three little claws at the legs' endings. Spiders have an amazing automatic mechanism that lets their tarsus' claws become hooked to stands of silk - spiders don't walk on strands, they're hooked to them, like alpinists. They also have tufs of very fine hair to stick to flat surfaces. In some big spiders, like the tegenaria gigantea, the sound of the tiny claws on hard surfaces can be easily heard.

Close-up of spider legs hooked on silk stand, claws visible :…

Amazing electron microscopy pictures of various body parts of dead small spiders, including chelicerae (so-called fangs) and claws :…
Posted by sissoucat on August 27, 2013 at 6:30 AM · Report this
If you see house spiders - please submit your records!…
Posted by Butterfly Becky on August 28, 2013 at 8:13 AM · Report this
If you see a house spider, please report your sighting!…
Posted by Butterfly Becky on August 28, 2013 at 8:15 AM · Report this
someone is completely misinformed. This is a Hobo spider and this is its mating season. They are not harmless, their bites can be necrotic and make people sick, especially children. You can get traps for them at hardware stores--i highly recommend it. "Giant House Spider" is a euphemism.
Posted by madame7 on September 2, 2013 at 5:31 PM · Report this
Yikes I just squashed one of these giant awful things this morning - It was staring me down. Had I known how fast it could have come at me, I probably would have run screaming from it. This was the 4th one I've seen - they are really terrifying!
Posted by kikieats on September 5, 2013 at 12:12 PM · Report this
The Burke museum has a great section on their website debunking spider myths. Helped me talk with my daughter about her fear of spiders.
Posted by TheDRB on September 9, 2013 at 11:10 PM · Report this
When we bought our daylight rambler in N Seattle, the previous owners said they never killed the giant spiders they saw because they rarely went to the lower floor and didn't care that they were there. That first fall I must have killed 50 of them. They had to have been breeding in the house, one day I came home and I counted 6 on the walls in one room alone. I'm a phobe and left for the local motel while my husband dealt with the bug guy. Sticky traps are my new best friend but I can't check them!
Posted by Dayna34 on September 14, 2013 at 11:08 PM · Report this
icouldliveinhope 121
Apparently the GHS eats the hobo spider. So it's kind of a friend? Like a creepy friend?
Posted by icouldliveinhope on October 1, 2013 at 9:58 AM · Report this
@116 - nope. You need to do more research. It is impossible to identify from the picture alone but GHS and Hobo Spiders are not the same thing, but they look almost identical and belong to the same family (although GHSs get bigger, so if it is big enough you can say fairly confidently it is not a hobo, which are smaller). One year we had several of them over the course of a few weeks. They are big. And fast. Shockingly fast.…
Posted by brent.b on October 24, 2013 at 3:27 PM · Report this
heidituliplupinrose 124
the spider looks like the brazilan wandering spider nown for banana spider heres a link to see the artical…
Posted by heidituliplupinrose on November 5, 2013 at 6:17 PM · Report this
Yep... I saw one of these big guys about 5 feet away from me against the wall on the floor in my garage in Ballard.
Was like "nope".
Kicked the bottom of a full 5 gallon bucket and it flew and smashed the spider against the wall.
Kinda felt bad after, but it all happened instinctually in the span of about three seconds.
Guess I'm a natural born arachnid murderer.
Also saw one in the bathroom of the "Birds Nest" where my band practices. It was already noped from someone else, so I could take my dumpledor in peace.
Posted by PharaohsOfTheSun on April 24, 2014 at 1:18 AM · Report this
judith.butlertron 127
Not only do I not kill these lovely and timid creatures, I cultivate them and protect them. When the wandering males come in the house, I shoo them into a small paper bag I keep around and put them outside. Trying to negotiate a mating with a female who will literally eat you if she's not receptive to your (extremely tentative) overtures is stressful enough without some human acting like a 4chan survivor and wrecking your shit in the hopes of having a scary story to tell the internet. :(

These are NOT hobo spiders (they eat not only the same food as hobo spiders, but also the hobo spiders themselves) and they're not dangerous. They're not interested in you, and the only reason they'll run at you is to try to hide under your feet cos they're completely terrified of exposure. Don't be shadin', I guess?

How to keep Tegenaria d. out of your house: don't leave food crumbs and juice spills that attract bugs. They're big spiders and they need to eat a lot, so if you find an occupied web in your house, they have a steady supply of food you're attracting for them. If the spider is small, like the one in the picture above, with large pedipalps (the set of extra "legs" at the front that look like inverted commas) it's a wandering male who, I assure you, has no use for you no matter HOW sexy you are, and you should just move him outside where he'll meet his fate AND eat a bunch of bugs that actually hunger for your flesh.

Don't kill things just because you're afraid of them. That's YOUR problem, not theirs. Person up already.
Posted by judith.butlertron on August 5, 2014 at 11:59 AM · Report this
I found this article when I googled "spider seattle" because I was greeted by one just now on my front door! WTF!!!! It's huge! Glad to know what the official story is. I live by Cheasty Greenspace on Beacon Hill and see all kinds of critters and spiders. This one made me stop and take a picture becsuse it's huge and dracula-like. Wow!
Posted by Alicia S. on Beacon Hill on August 10, 2014 at 7:18 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 131
I swept one of those out the back door the other day - more like I touched it with the broom and it took off like a shot, then I chased it. I don't like to kill them if I can avoid it.
Posted by Max Solomon on September 15, 2014 at 10:39 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 132
Kudos to you, Max Solomon.
Posted by Matt from Denver on September 15, 2014 at 10:41 AM · Report this
care bear 133
Why did you do this to us again? :(
Posted by care bear on September 15, 2014 at 11:13 AM · Report this
Just found one in the house for the first time in a couple years. Not what I want to see by my feet when I am peeing in the middle of the night...
Posted by brent.b on September 15, 2014 at 11:55 AM · Report this
@Seatackled: Have you learned the difference between poisonous and venomous yet?
Posted by Hanoumatoi on September 15, 2014 at 11:58 AM · Report this
My house backs up to a gully in West Seattle. Every year the critters start their invasion. As long as they stay outside my boundaries...bedroom, bathroom...all is good. Cross into those areas and I haul out the spiders deadliest enemy, the flip flop.

I caught one a few years back in the middle of the bed. Damn...I was just heading in to go to sleep and now I'm awake and he's just mocking me, "Hey, turn off that light, there's a mosquito in here and I'm hungry...YOU go sleep on the couch". I hit him with an entire Seattle Times Sunday edition and he basically laughed at me. I hit him again. He again mocks me like the Black Knight in Monty Python's Holy Grail..."tis but a flesh wound!" I hit him ~47 times in a row...the bed started rolling across the floor. Apparently it was more than a flesh wound for him at that point.

On the plus side. With all the woodland critters that make their way into the house. I never see them alive after a few hours...ever.
Posted by Bigwave425 on September 15, 2014 at 12:03 PM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 138
Yay! I have two of these living in my garage this year, and caught one in my house. So awesome!

Fun fact: I bought David Sedaris' book When You Are Engulfed In Flames a few weeks ago, and learned he was an fan of these guys residing in his bedroom window frame when he lived in Normandy.
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on September 15, 2014 at 12:09 PM · Report this
fletc3her 139
Do we just recycle this annually?
Posted by fletc3her on September 15, 2014 at 12:23 PM · Report this
venomlash 140
I'm in Chicagoland, and we don't seem to have those monsters here. We have some orb weavers that get almost that big but they don't run around like that. Nah, the fast-moving creepy-crawlies we have are house centipedes (such as Scutigera coleoptrata) that can get up to four inches long and zoom around with great speed when exposed. They just prefer dark crevices, luckily.
I have a live-and-let-live approach to such predatory arthropods that eat things like flies and cockroaches. I'd much rather shoo one back into the crack under the baseboard than kill such an innocuous and charming animal.
Posted by venomlash on September 15, 2014 at 12:29 PM · Report this
stinkbug 141
It's not like we're a little Seattle ladybug that has to deal with spiders:
Posted by stinkbug on September 15, 2014 at 12:32 PM · Report this
HollowMan 143
The old house I lived in as a kid got invaded by these guys every year. Harmless things, only trouble they ever gave me was once I put down the remote on one and I had to clean spider off my remote and felt bad.

They do eat hobos, and if you see a spider around here that looks like that is massively more likely to be a giant house spider. Only 2% of spiders collected as possible hobo spiders turn out to be hobos - most are GHS or European house spiders. None of these spiders are likely to bite you, and reports are that they do not hurt (most victims of hobo bites don't realize they have been bitten until the venom starts working later). If you are worried about hobos, either seal off your house or let the GHS in. Hobos are pushed out of areas GHS live in.

Posted by HollowMan on September 15, 2014 at 12:40 PM · Report this
And THIS is just one of the many reasons I have 4 cats. Big fast spiders are appetizers to them. The only down side is when I catch one of my babies walking around with 8 wiggling legs hanging out of its mouth and then that "crunch". Makes me gag every single time.
Posted by TheWhiteRabbit on September 15, 2014 at 1:01 PM · Report this
biffp 146
I caught one of these Friday, and put it outside. They are huge, fast and can make noise. I believe they are harmless. I've taken them to Woodland Park Zoo to check.
Posted by biffp on September 15, 2014 at 2:57 PM · Report this
Don't kill them! That's what's wrong with the world.
Posted by Stacey on September 15, 2014 at 4:20 PM · Report this
I once got a Hobo bite in West Seattle. It itched intensely and within 2 days the area necrosed and there was a small hole on my wrist. I went to the dr and took a course of antibiotics. The large house spider is like the harmless Wolf spiders of the SW desert. They also take up residence but always come in pairs so it is douby scary when you see them. And then there are the lizards that slide in under the doors. These are some of the reasons I no longer live Iin the desert....too many hideous and venomous creatures! But venomous Hobos are definitely in Seattle.
Posted by sharonshiatsu on September 15, 2014 at 6:17 PM · Report this
Puty 152
Spiders are neat and I like them. Everyone should appreciate these multi-legged insect-eradicators. Want to hate on bugs? Pick wasps. Wasps are total bastards.
Posted by Puty on September 15, 2014 at 6:27 PM · Report this
And they are all saying, 'Are you white or dark meat? BWAAAHAAHAAHAAHAAHAA!'
Beware house and apartment dwellers with basements and attics!
Posted by auntie grizelda on September 16, 2014 at 1:05 PM · Report this
Our bedroom is in the basement of the house. I am seeing these giant house spiders more than I would like! One crawled across the bathroom floor next to my foot. A few days later as I was doing my constant scan of the floor when I walk around down there I saw just legs sticking out in the opening of the bathroom. That one escaped! I have trouble sleeping down there now! After reading others comments I have decided I need a new cat. Our cat is down stairs 90% of the time, why isn't the lazy little jerk killing these humongous spiders? Oh wait maybe he is and there are just to many..... yep sleeping upstairs on the couch again!
Posted by chellyT on November 20, 2014 at 3:22 AM · Report this

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