Funnel Web Spiders
- Common Name(s): Grass Spider, Funnel Weaver Spider, Funnel Web Spider (Not to be confused with the Sydney Funnel Web), & (in western states) Hobo Spider
- Order: Araneae
- Family: Agelenidae
- Common Species: Agelenopsis spp.
- Commonly Confused With: Wolf Spiders
How to Identify?
Funnel Weaver spiders possess a dark-colored abdomen (back section of a spider), usually with stripes and intricate patterns, and a brown, tan, or yellow-brown cephalothorax (front section of a spider), which will possess two dark-colored stripes. The body of a funnel weaver spider ranges between 10-20 millimeters in length for females and 9-18 millimeters for males (Jacobs 2002). Identification of funnel weaver spiders can sometimes be aided by looking at the spider’s web. They will have a sheet web (this looks like the top sheet on a bed) that has a funnel or cone shape incorporated at one side. See Photo Below:
Notice how the lager sheet web tapers off to a funnel shape at the lower right-hand corner.
Where do they live?
These spiders only come inside as incidental pests, usually as temperatures start getting cooler. They are usually found outdoors in tall grass, shrubs, bushes, evergreen trees, behind siding, in wood piles, and other areas that offer adequate protection. They are a web dwelling spider and that is most often where they are going to be found.
What do they eat?
Funnel Weaver spiders are predators of insects and other arthropods (insects, spiders, crustaceans, millipedes, etc). While the funnel weaver spider will eat any arthropod it can catch, it usually prefers to eat flying insects due to the construction of its web. They are not hunting spiders like some other species but instead spend most of their time on their webs.
What do they do?
These spiders like to build webs in areas that can inconvenience people as they go about daily outdoor activities. They build their webs in areas where people outdoors may not notice them; if a person happens to accidentally disturb the web it can result in a bite, not because the funnel weaver is being aggressive, but because it thinks you are a prey item in the web. They rely on quick speed to run through their web and envenomate their prey. If they are scared they will also rely on this speed to escape, which can scare unsuspecting homeowners. They can also build ‘unsightly’ webs in areas that are otherwise aesthetically pleasing. If a funnel weaver spider does happen to bite, it is no worse than a bee sting (unless you are allergic to the venom or the bite becomes infected).
Funnel weaver spiders can be large in size, which can lead homeowners to confuse them with wolf spiders. One differentiating characteristic is the visible spinnerets (the organ spiders use to spin webs/silk) on the back of funnel weaver spiders. These spinnerets stick off the backside of the spider and may look like an additional segment of the abdomen or like a tail. In comparison, other spiders’ spinnerets are usually hidden under the abdomen.
- Jacobs, S., Sr. (March 2002). Grass Spiders (Department of Entomology). Retrieved November 1, 2018, from https://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/grass-spiders
Author: G. Wyatt West– B.S.E.S University of Georgia 2017; Board Certified Entomologist
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