The hobo spider is a member of the funnel web spiders, of the Eratigena agrestis family. The spider often lives around human habitats, hence the risk of being bitten unknowingly. It is known that the spider has its origins in Europe, having reached America in the 1920s, being brought on by the cargo shipments and vessels traveling across the ocean. They have slowly expanded throughout America, being often confused with other types of spiders, such as the brown recluse spider.
What does a hobo spider bite look like?
Studies have shown that half of the hobo spider bites are actually dry, which means that no venom has been injected through the bite. Given the fact that no venom is injected, no symptoms are going to occur. Often times, one does not even realize he/she was bitten by a spider. However, if it happens that the hobo spider injects venom through the bite, the respective area will become red and inflamed. In the first twenty-four hours, the bite will resemble the one of a mosquito. After that period has passed, it is possible that a blister will form in the center of the bite. The blister will break open partially or totally – liquid will ooze from the blister, while the respective area will remain ulcerated. It may takes approximately three weeks for the ulceration to heal, leaving a scar instead.
These are the most common symptoms caused by the hobo spider bite (in case of venom injected through the bite):
- Redness at the site of the bite
- Small area initially
- Slowly starts to expand, covering an area between 2 and 6 inches
- Blisters appear in the center of the bite
- The rupturing of the blisters leads to liquid oozing out of the wound and subsequent ulceration
- The healing of the ulceration leaves a scab on the skin
- In rare cases, the necrosis of the tissues can occur due to the spider bite (high risk in those who have pre-existing medical problems)
- Systemic symptoms can also be caused by the bite of the hobo spider, with some of the most common including:
- Symptoms of severe allergic reactions to the venom include:
- Dry mouth
- Blurry vision
- Joint aches
- State of general weakness
As it was already mentioned, in the first stage of the bite, redness will appear at the bite site, extending in the next couple of hours. For the second stage of the bite, a blister will form in the center of the bite (within 24 hours – until then, the hobo spider bite can be easily mistaken for the one of a mosquito). In the third stage of the bite, the blister will break open and liquid will ooze from it, leaving an ulceration instead (within 24-36 hours). The fourth stage is represented by the healing period, which can last as far as three weeks, leaving a scab at the site of the bite.
Hobo spiders are brown in color and they measure approximately between 12 and 18 mm in length. Their legs are brown as well, with no rings on them and the hairs present on them are short. Instead, they have characteristic markings on the abdomen. One can distinguish the male from the female hobo spider by the fact that the males present two large palps. These are often confused as fangs or sacs of venom but, in reality, these are the genital organs of the hobo spider. The females present these palps as well but they are smaller in size than in males and they do not present the characteristic, swollen appearance. Also, the females can be distinguished from the males, due to their larger abdomen size.
If the hobo spider bite is dry (no venom injected), no treatment is required. In general, it is recommended that the site of the bite is cleaned with soap and warm water, as soon as you notice it. This will reduce the risk of secondary infections, as bacteria love nothing more than to enter the body through the site of the bite. If you notice that there is a lot of redness and inflammation in the area, it is for the best to address a doctor and seek out specialized assistance. Antivenin might be administrated, so as to counteract the effects of the venom inside the body. The doctor might also decide to administer a tetanus shot or antibiotics, so as to reduce the risk of infection.
Can you die from a hobo spider bite?
Even though the hobo spider bite can lead to some serious complications, including aplastic anemia and necrosis of the tissues, it is not fatal. The risk for complications increases if the person suffers from pre-existing medical conditions or in those who are suffering a severe allergic reaction to the bite. However, with prompt medical intervention, the risk for complications can be reduced down to a minimum.
How long does it take for a hobo spider bite to heal?
If a person is healthy and does not suffer from other pre-existing medical problems, he/she can expect the healing of the hobo spider bite to occur in approximately three weeks. A scab will remain at the area of the bite, as the ulceration heals. In those who suffer from the complications of the bite, the healing period might be prolonged. The longest healing period is encountered in those who have suffered from complications, such as the necrosis of the tissues. This can take for several months to heal, with a slow recovery process.
In conclusion, if you notice that you have been bitten and you are not certain if the bite comes from the hobo spider, you should seek immediate physical attention. If you are in a restricted area, such as in the woods, try at least to wash the bite site with clean water and apply a bandage or cover, so as to protect yourself against the risk of infection.