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 ?)
people that kill spiders are ignorant knuckle dragging bronies.
holy god. i never want to see that again. or read the words "audible scraping noise" associated with a spider.
Seeing spiders isn't the problem. It's when they disappear from view. Then worry
You know, I always prided myself on not being scared of spiders. But it appears those days just ended.
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.
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.
Then the spider said "I'm going to come and harass you where you work too."
@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...
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.

@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."
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!
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.
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?
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.
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!
@8 FTW
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.
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.
@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:…
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.
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.
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.
I love people who get all sanctimonious about some invasive, non-indigenous freaky insect, and yet eat factory-farmed meat which is basically like eating pure torture and death. You go, hipsters.
Spiders are cool. I like them.
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.
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.
It's comin' right for us! *blam**blam**blam**blam*
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.
I didn't know about the Giant House Spider until last night...
Willful amnesia on Dominic's part.
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.
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.
@33) Oh my god, you're right.
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 "
I'm afraid to turn my head.
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.
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.
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?
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.
@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.
didn't Dom*
i can have conversations about spiders but, for the love of god! that photo definitely should be below the jump!
@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.
One key difference between giant house spiders and hobo spiders is that house spiders see you & freeze in place or run away at lightning speed into the shadows whereas the hobos horrible vision and disposition results in them being very aggressive with any movement toward them. You move near them or toward them and they either move aggressively toward you or raise up to attack and bite you.

Hobo spiders are assholes, and their bite causes neurological damage like the brown recluse spider.

Here's how to make your home less inviting to spiders:

Spiders have taste buds in their legs. So, if you want to keep them out of a window, room or whole house, use essential oils like eucalyptus, citrus, lavender, mint, tea tree, clove or cinnamon. Spray or apply oils to window frames, door frames, and baseboards at least once per week. I spray lavender on my bedroom windows, curtains and bedding almost daily and clean my bathroom & kitchen with citrus oils & soap.

Spray webs or their "insect grave yards" with soap & lemon oil.

For the determined, horny males who are dammed & determined to trespass, I have a little, container vacuum to catch & release them far from my house in a wooded area near a river.

However, I've come to despise hobo spiders with their aggressive, reactionary behavior (and they're a bit stupid); so, they are not welcome in my home. A few have met their swift end after trespassing. They had it coming.
I say we take off and nuke the site from orbit.

It's the only way to be sure.
@40 "...locked the door."

Ahahahahaha... Those long skinny legs ARE THE PERFECT LOCK PICKS!
@48 FTW !!
I just killed one of these 2 days ago!!!! Took pictures and even a video!!! eeeeeeekkkkk!!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Also impressive: Alison Holcomb's bathroom décor may actually be crustier than ours.
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"
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
@46 Gee, by your stellar 'logic', humans aren't a native species here either, so I guess we're next!
@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.

This is one of those very rare occasions when I am grateful for hearing loss.
and @8 FTW!
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.
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.
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.
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.
@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.
@60 Whoa. Even I could do without large scale invasions. I'll take my crazy spiders one or two at a time, thanks!
A thorough article about the things most "spider bites" up here turn out to be (also scary) combined with the twitter account @hiwearespiders and their pointer to images of spiders wearing tiny water droplets as hats (google images for: spiders water drop hats) helped me a lot. In Guatemala my travelling partner got bit by a brown recluse and it was pretty bad even with care from a local guy who was known for being able to treat these. One thing the article let me know is I am super unlikely to see anything that bad here and it explained in great detail why. I'm better but still have verrrrrrry unpredictable responses to seeing one, or running into (or through) the constantly respun webs in the backyard.
@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.
@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.)
Let's just take a moment and count our blessings that spiders don't fly!
@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.
Hobo spiders have visible "paps" that look kind of like bulbous fangs in the front. This spider does not.
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.
81's the wolfe spider and hobo spider that are commonly confused...and hobo spiders like to hide in rumpled bedding of piles of clothes..or any and every cabin in the woods in the pnw. i can not remember which one is which but one spider has longer legs in the front, the other has the longer legs in the back.
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.
@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.…
@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.
Nice Times article about the myth of night time spider bites.…
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.
@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.
News Flash!
Filthy house has large pests!
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...

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.
(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!
Fnarf is pretty much dead to me after having read his post.
@90: That appears to be a tailless whipscorpion. I think they're harmless. You're welcome!
I could never go back to sleep knowing that fucking thing is still in the house.
@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.
@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.
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.
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!
@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.
@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.
If you find one of those would anyone willing to collect it, freeze it and then mail it to me at my lab?

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