Flathead sees surge in hobo spiders - KRTV News in Great Falls, Montana

Flathead sees surge in hobo spiders

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Photo from: Dr. Lee Ostrom's Hobo Spider Images Photo from: Dr. Lee Ostrom's Hobo Spider Images

Pest control experts say unseasonably warm weather this summer has caused a surge in hobo spiders in the Flathead area like they've never seen before.

Scott Goodson, owner of Bug Hunters Pest Control, says hobo spiders are spreading aggressively in rural areas in such a rapid manner that he doesn't see an end to it. 

Goodson says hobos are highly adaptable to Montanan's changing climates, and their sole purpose is to find food and mate aggressively. 

In his 23 years of serving the Flathead, he has never seen the spider so abundant.

Goodson noted, "I've seen the worst of the worst, when it comes to hobo spiders, I've seen glue traps that just have 30, 40 where they're literally running over each other and they don't even get stuck on the board anymore."

Natural nesting areas for hobos are wood piles, vegetation, and other debris on the ground. They're also commonly found around poorly-insulated windows and door frames. 

If you suspect a hobo spider has bitten you, see a doctor, and always try to capture the spider for identification.

Pest-control company Orkin says of hobo spiders: 

Bite symptoms include a slight prickling sensation and a small, numb, hard area that appears within 30 minutes after the bite. These symptoms may also include a reddened area of up to 3 or more inches in diameter. This reddened area will become blistered between 15 to 35 hours after the bite, and about a day later the blister breaks and oozes. A necrotic lesion may form and can range from 1/2 to 1 inch or more in diameter and take several months to heal. Painful headaches also have been associated with hobo spider bites.

Hobo spider bite symptoms vary from person to person. No symptoms develop in about 50 percent of people bitten by a hobo spider. Therefore, it is very important to collect any spider that bites and, if possible, submit the specimen to a medical expert who can provide an accurate identification.

A report on the website of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention offers advice for working in areas where hobo spiders may be found: 

Practical control strategies should emphasize personal protection rather than attempted eradication of T. agrestis populations. Exposure can be reduced through the use of gloves and other clothing that covers the skin while working in crawl spaces and similar locations and through precaution when retrieving firewood or other items stored in potentially infested areas. Screens on basement and ground-floor windows and insulation strips under doors may reduce the risk for spider infestation.

The National Park Service has more information about hobo spiders, including this overview:

They are brown and the adults measure roughly 10-15 mm (0.4 - 0.6 inches) in body length and 15 to 45 mm (0.6 - 1.8 inches) in leg span. Their legs show no distinct rings and have short hairs. Their abdomens have several chevron shaped markings. Males are distinctively different from females in that they have two large palpi (mouth parts) that look like boxing gloves. These palpi are often mistaken for fangs or venom sacs, but they are in fact the male genitalia. The females also have these palpi, but the ends are not enlarged as they are in the males. Females tend to have a larger and rounder abdomen when compared to males.

Although the bite of the hobo spider usually is initially painless, the bite of the hobo spider can be serious. About 50% of Hobo spider bites are "dry", meaning that no venom is injected and nothing happens to the victim. Typically when the venom is injected, the victim will experience an immediate redness, which develops around the bite then may begin to disappear within a few hours. The most commonly reported symptom is severe headache. Other symptoms can include nausea, weakness, fatigue, temporary memory loss, and vision impairment.

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