By Tyler Lane

The Mountaineer of Big Sandy, Montana

Greytak Calendars available at Extension office to support Montana 4-H Foundation

Don Greytak calendars are now available at the Chouteau County Extension office. Don Greytak, a pencil artist from Havre, Montana showcases his work in these great calendars. Greytak's portraits illustrate rural life and a down home way of living. The profits benefit the Montana 4-H Foundation. The Montana 4-H Foundation serves as a non-profit corporation that continually supports the state wide 4-H program, and allows youth and leaders to participate in many life changing experiences through the 4-H program. The calendars can be purchased for $10.00 online at MSU publications or locally from the Chouteau County Extension Office. The office is located in the basement of the courthouse. If you have any further questions please call the Extension Office at 406-622-3751.

Hobo spider, Eratigena agresti.

It's that time of the year again where spiders are starting to enter our homes. In particular, the hobo spider is very common in our homes in late summer and early fall. Right now, we are starting to see the male hobo spiders throughout our homes.

Just to clarify some recent rumors, there is not a hobo spider outbreak in any part of the state of Montana. Some of our insect and arachnid home invaders are a bit early this year, but this is by no means an outbreak situation. They are also not "spreading" or "mating" aggressively.

Is the hobo spider harmful to humans? Based on several decades of research, there is conclusive evidence that they are not harmful to humans. There certainly is conflicting information in the media and internet, but, it is simply incorrect to say that it causes necrotic lesions and is a dangerous spider. Any reference to the spider being dangerous is based on a 1991 report in a vague journal that referred to hobos biting rabbits and causing necrotic lesions with additional circumstantial stories with hobos causing lesions with humans. All this evidence was purely anecdotal, as no spider was ever seen biting or identified with the lesions. This study and research have been discredited, but, unfortunately, the hobo spider "myth" has exploded in the media and through misdiagnoses of purported lesions.

Here are some facts about the hobo spider and spiders in general:

Hobo spiders are present in Montana but are not aggressive.

They do not cause necrotic lesions.

They do not have the compound that the brown recluse has that causes necrosis, sphingomyelinase D.

This spider was introduced from Europe and is common there, where it is not a dangerous species. People have lived with it for years with no reported bites or medical issues. The venom of the populations we have here is identical to the venom of those spiders found in Europe.

Necrotic lesions can be caused by several other factors other than a spider bite. The most common cause for necrotic lesions in the West is a bacterial infection called MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphlo-coccus aureus infection), which is a bacterium that is resistant to many common antibiotics.

The only spider that is potentially harmful to humans in Montana is the black widow.

The spider article was-prepared by Laurie Kerzicnik (MSU Associate Extension Specialist, Insect Diagnostician).

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