Hobo Spider

Eratigena agrestis

Last updated: July 31, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff

The Hobo Spider travels city to city like an actual Hobo and is often found near railroad tracks!

Hobo Spider Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Arthropoda
Class
Arachnida
Order
Araneae
Family
Agelenidae
Genus
Eratigena
Scientific Name
Eratigena agrestis

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Hobo Spider Conservation Status


Hobo Spider Facts

Prey
Flies, Ants, Cockroaches
Group Behavior
  • Largely solitary
Fun Fact
The Hobo Spider travels city to city like an actual Hobo and is often found near railroad tracks!
Biggest Threat
Praying Mantis
Most Distinctive Feature
6-8 teeth
Other Name(s)
Funnel Web Spider
Gestation Period
Four weeks
Litter Size
50-100 eggs
Habitat
Crevices and cracks
Predators
Wasps, Praying Mantis
Diet
Insectivore
Lifestyle
  • Solitary
Location
Pacific Northwestern United States, Western Europe

Hobo Spider Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Brown
Skin Type
Hair
Lifespan
1 year
Length
1/5 or 1/4th of an inch
Aggression
Medium

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View all of the Hobo Spider images!



Summary

The Hobo Spider is a kind of spider that designs funnel webs and often travels from city to city. Hence, its name became Hobo Spider. Like its traveling preferences, its genus was also changed quite a few times. It was considered to be a flesh-eating insect in the olden days but after research, scientists have fallen into a debate on whether it is a harmful spider or not. Although it has been identified numerous times, its physical description is quite hard to decode because spiders often vary in their appearances.  

Hobo Spider Species, Types, and Scientific name

The Hobo Spider (Eratigena agrestis) belongs to the Family Agelenidae and comes from the order Araneae. Formerly, it was regarded as the Tegenaria agrestis; before that, it was in the Genus Aranea because of its likeness to the European habitat. But in 2013, the Genus for the Hobo Spider was finally have been thought to be Eratigena.

The Hobo Spider is also commonly known as the funnel web spider. But it is not the same as the Australian funnel web spider, more commonly referred to as the funnel web spider.  

The exact population size of the Hobo Spiders is unknown. However, in a study conducted on these spiders, there was an estimate found. The Utah Plant Pest Diagnostic Lab has been keeping track of the number of Hobo Spiders since the late 70s. Out of the 13,500 samples that have been submitted in a specific time, 639 of them were Hobo Spiders. 

So, it may be a stretch to think there are only 639 of the Hobo Spiders that exist. But in a sample of insects and mites, the Hobo Spiders are within the range of 4 to 6% which itself is a significant number in the spider population. 

As for its species, only one has been discovered until now. 



Appearance: How To Identify Hobo Spiders?

As mentioned before, it is hard to identify spiders from a distance. They do have distinctive features but are visible only if you see them through a microscope. Secondly, these physical attributes are better understood by an arachnologist. 

They are usually brown in color but may range from light to dark brown among various Hobo Spiders. A dark center line is seen running down vertical of the body to the center along with lighter stripes running on both ends of the body. 

You will also find yellow markings on the body but that is quite general with many spiders and they vary in color quite often. They are called chevrons and are pointed towards the head in a V shape. However, these markings are not quite visible to the naked eye and if you do spot a Hobo Spider with such a distinctive feature, there are more chances of it being a juvenile Hobo Spider. 

The Hobo Spider is oblong-shaped and has a segregated thorax and an abdomen. At the near end, you will find two spinnerets but there is no antenna on the body. It measures about one-fourth of an inch and sometimes one-half inch in length. However, it is to note that the male adults are shorter than the female adults. 

The spider has long and slender legs attached to the upper body region or thorax. They are 8 in number and do not have any bands on them. They can run pretty quickly but are unable to climb on walls or other such surfaces. You will find them usually hidden in their webs which are either tube-shaped or funnel-like. Hence, the reason they are also called funnel web spiders. 

These are all general features that may also be found in other kinds of spiders. This is why to be sure about their identification, you will need to be on the search for the following attributes that are only visible under a microscope. 

  • There must be Plumose setae on the Hobo Spider’s body. Although many spiders may have these, the Hobo Spider is one that will definitely carry this feature. The Plumose setae are like thin hair that appear as if they are feathers and lie flat on its body.
  • The Hobo Spider will have six to eight teeth. Other spiders usually have three to five teeth. 
  • It has eight eyes that are present in two rows. In contrast, other spiders have a different arrangement of eyes although the number is usually eight.  

Their behavior is mainly solitary. They live in isolation on their webs or in hiding. But they won’t come charging at you in the form of groups like you usually see in movies. They are only found together when they are mating. 

Their ground for mating is the web that the adult Hobo Spiders built for themselves. The females wait for the males to arrive at this mating ground. Once it is done, the male goes away but eventually dies. 

Habitat: Where to Find the Hobo Spider?

The Hobo Spiders are usually found in America, European countries, Canada, and Mexico. They usually prefer the warmer climate. When it is the cold season, you can either find them hidden somewhere warm or in people’s houses. 

If you were to be specific, then you would find them in places that contain crevices, holes, or cracks that would allow the formation of their webs. Their legs may not help them much in climbing but they do work well on uneven surfaces like clothing, carpets, stairs, and such. 

Like a funnel, they design their webs and allow their prey to slowly fall into their twisted trap. You can find them in the months of August till October hidden with fellow Hobo Spiders to mate. This is when the two genders mate but only one comes out alive near the end. The male dies while the female lives on to lay eggs. 

Another thing that is quite interesting about these Spiders is that they might be considered aggressive by some people. However, they might be of that nature mostly due to defense. 

Diet: What do Hobo Spiders Eat?

What does a Hobo Spider Eat?

A Hobo Spider has a very simple way of hunting. Its web is the main element in its intent to kill. Whenever a prey is trapped in the web, a vibration runs through the web alerting the Hobo Spider of its meal for the day. This technique is more towards surviving rather than hunting with the predator sense. 

The main insects trapped in the web are ground insects like flies, ants, and cockroaches. They will gobble up anything that sets foot into their tunnel-shaped web. This is why they live in survival mode. 

What Eats the Hobo Spider?

Its predators include the Praying Mantis (Mantis religiosa) and the Yellow-legged Mud-Dauber Wasp (Sceliphron caementarium). Although some wasps target the Hobo Spider, the Praying Mantis is one predator that is a big threat to the Hobo Spider. They are also used widely for eliminating the Hobo Spiders from certain communities. 

Prevention: Are Hobo Spiders Dangerous?

Hobo Spiders are not aggressive or dangerous. They may attack a human if provoked but that stays true for any animal. Since Hobo Spiders are usually found around in houses, they have a higher tendency to come in contact with a human. 

Hence, it may attack a human but whether they are poisonous or not is still under debate. In the past, there were two or more cases that suggested Hobo Spiders caused necrosis. But as per today’s research, there have only been two cases of Hobo Spider bites but the only symptoms were redness and itching. However, a spider bite is hard to identify because the spider is harder to recognize. This is why the matter still remains a mystery. 

Here is how you can prevent Hobo Spiders from living in your space;

  • Seal all the crevices, cracks, and holes.
  • Organize and remove the extra clutter. 
  • Clean the basement regularly. 
  • Vacuum properly.

Up Next…

Take a look at some of our other amazing spider articles!

View all 93 animals that start with H

About the Author

Alan is a freelance writer and an avid traveler. He specializes in travel content. When he visits home he enjoys spending time with his family Rottie, Opie.

Hobo Spider FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Why Are They Called Hobo Spiders?

Because they are found traveling from one home to another, and are often found near rail tracks.

Will Hobo Spiders Chase You?

No, they won’t. Mainly because they cannot see properly but also because they are not aggressive. They may however attack if provoked.

How Do You Identify a Hobo Spider?

Under a microscope. It must have the three features; eight eyes in two rows, 6-8 teeth, and the presence of Plumose setae.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. Web MD, Available here: https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-to-know-hobo-spiders
  2. Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hobo_spider
  3. Pest World, Available here: https://www.pestworld.org/pest-guide/spiders/hobo-spiders/
  4. Burken Museum, Available here: https://www.burkemuseum.org/collections-and-research/biology/arachnology-and-entomology/spider-myths/myth-how-recognize-hobo
  5. USU, Available here: https://extension.usu.edu/pests/uppdl/hobo-spiders

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