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Beware - The Hobo Spider

Updated on May 8, 2017
The Hobo can be confused with the ordinary brown house spider...Learn the differences!
The Hobo can be confused with the ordinary brown house spider...Learn the differences!

In the Beginning.....

After having driven over 3000 miles to visit our new grandson on Orcas Island in Washington State, we were delighted at the beauty and serenity of the islands. Being located in the middle of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the islands surrounding us just seemed to be dotted strategically, adding to the beauty of the area.

The day before our departure for our long drive home, my husband complained of something that seemed to have worked it's way into his boot and irritated his ankle. Not thinking anymore about it, we continued packing, stopping occasionally for him to remove his boot and tend to the irritation, finally resorting to bandaging it.

The morning of our departure, my husband felt like he had the flu. He was feverish, and just had no energy. After breakfast, he asked me to look at this ankle again. By all indications, the spot had gotten infected, so we dealt with it accordingly, still not thinking it was anything serious, just irritating.

Orcas Island, WA:
Orcas Island, Washington, USA

get directions

While this was our destination, the spider lives throughout the Pacific Northwest.

The Journey Home Begins

We left our family in Orcas that morning, headed home pulling our small trailer that we had used to bring our grandson's cradle. Along with us on this entire trip was our 18 year old grandson as well.

As we began our trip home, we made the decision to go down the coast to California to visit our granddaughter in Oregon and travel from there to Los Gatos, California to meet up with extened family. But, before we could reach or final destination in Oregon that day, my husband's leg grew more infected, swelling tremendously and with red streaks.

I located a clinic in Ashland, OR where my husband was seen immediately. The doctor recognized the symtoms and asked if he had recently been bitten by any spiders. My husband noted that he didn't think so, but once this doctor saw the ankle, he immediately recognized the bite.

By this time, the ankle had gone from an irritating red spot the size of a pea (in the morning) to the size of a half-dollar, black and gooey! The doctor prescribed a strong antibiotic and advised that he stay completely off his foot. Once advised we were traveling, he suggested that my husband lay down with his foot propped up as much as possible. His prognosis was that the antibiotics should work within 48 hours, and if not, seek an emergency room as soon as possible.

The next day our journey continued.....

While this is NOT my husband's bite, these will give you an idea of the damage the venom can cause.
While this is NOT my husband's bite, these will give you an idea of the damage the venom can cause.
While this is NOT my husband's bite, these will give you an idea of the damage the venom can cause.
While this is NOT my husband's bite, these will give you an idea of the damage the venom can cause.

Los Gatos, California

My husband seemed to rally a bit during our drive, and by the time we reached our destination in California, he was feeling my better and the swelling seemed to be subsiding.

Much to our dismay, within 2 hours of reaching Los Gatos, the foot began to noticeably swell. So much so that a trip to the emergency room was made. By the time we reached the ER, the foot and leg had swollen tremendously, and the red streaks were back. The wound itself was even larger and more horrible looking than before.

My husband was so sick again. Then came the horrible point of talking to the resident doctor. He came out and told me that IF my husband lived, he would go home without a leg. His suggestion for our travel plans was that I should sell the truck and trailer and plan to take my husband home in a coffin.

This was completely unacceptable! But the reason for this was that the doctors in California had never had to deal with the Hobo Spider bite. This spider doesn't live in California. I contacted the doctor in Oregon who called and explained the situation. I also located numerous websites on research of this spider and suggested that additional specialists be called. Finally, after hours of being a total pain in the posterior to this hospital, they agreed to call in specialists that deal with infectious bites.

My husband was then put on 3 different antibiotics to fight the infection that was spreading quickly through his body. His leg was elevated and the wait began. It took some 4 days for the antibiotics to work, but finally the infection and swelling began to diminish. The initial bite looked as though it was tar and now about 4 inches in diameter.

The doctor explained that once we arrived home, we needed to follow-up with our personal physician and gave us the records for our travel. He also explained to us that the danger of the Hobo Spider was that the venom had an anticoagulant that could cause damage to other organs, and that he had seen this happen as late a 6 months after a bite.

All this from a nasty, little spider!

The Final Leap Home!

We traveled from California to Flagstaff, AZ on the next leg of our journey home. Our grandson lived in Flagstaff, so this made for a good stopping point for a day of rest.

We left our grandson in Flagstaff and continued our journey. We were in constant contact with our son and his family in Washington, making sure they were now aware of this horrendous spider. They were not, and were appalled that they had never been advised of this creature living in the islands. My daughter-in-law then contacted the local paper to complain. This complaint lead to a reporter getting in touch with us on our way home, and our story along with several others, were finally making news in the islands.

We arrived home on a Tuesday evening, myself exhausted from having to make the entire drive without relief. I was already a week late getting back to my job, so I only unpacked what was necessary and decided to leave it until the next day when I returned home from work.

Home and Beyond

I got up that beautiful Wednesday morning and went to work. My husband was feeling so much better, he insisted on taking me the 45 minutes to my store. He had promised me he would take it easy and wait to unload the truck when I got home.

About 2 p.m., he called me at work, noting he was suddenly very tired and was going to lay down. This is totally NOT LIKE MY HUSBAND! I was concerned, but he felt that it was just due to the trip. Within an hour, he arrived at my store. I was shocked to see him, especially when I could really see what he looked like! He was literally green. I rushed him to a local emergency room where he was immediately usher into the back. He was having a heart attack!

I won't go into all the details of the ER visit, as that's a whole other Hubpage worth! But, they transported him to another location that was better established for dealing with open-heart surgery. It was finally determined that my husband had 5 blockages......1 @ 10%, 1 @ 20%, 1 @ 40%, 1 @ 80% and the last at 95% blockage. I was shattered! After all he had been through, now this.

My confusion abounded! Just weeks prior to our trip, he had gone through a Thallium Stress Test and his heart was fine! He was didn't have high blood pressure, bad cholesterol or anything else to suspect this to happen. It was the anticoagulant from the spider.....he had struck again!

Thank goodness by husband was in such good shape. He came through the quadruple bypass fine, and now 10 years later, has had no further problems with his heart.


My husbands story was told, and obviously, retold by the newspaper Island Sounder from Orcas Island, WA. I have attached a link if you care to read. They have many of the details wrong, but the basic story is correct. They also have noted several others who had close calls with this spider.

If you live in the Pacific Northwest, please get to know this spider. We tremble to think what could have happened had this spider decided to bite our 10 day old grandson instead of my husband. Put out the glue traps and catch these things before they get to you. They are so much worse that the brown recluse even thinks he is!


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