Funnel Weavers, Agelenidae

Agelenidae is a family that holds about 1,200 recognized species of funnel weaver spiders that occur throughout the world. These spiders build funnel shaped webs that trap prey in their complicated patterns, but they should not be confused with other families of spiders that build funnel webs like funnel-web spiders or funnel-web tarantulas.

Funnel weavers can reach an average body length between .1 inches in the smallest species and .7 inches, although the largest species can reach total lengths of up to 3.9 inches with the leg span included. The abdomens of most species are oval in shape and display two rows of spots and lines, and some species display lines on the top of the cephalothorax while others do not, including the poisonous hobo spider. Many species within the Agelena genus are known to be social, residing in communal webs where food is caught and young are raised cooperatively.

Most funnel weaver species can move quickly, especially on their webs, reaching speeds of up to 1.7 feet per second. The hunting methods of these spiders are similar to those of other funnel web building species. Webs are built in the open and although they are not sticky, prey is easily trapped in the chaotic patterns of the webs once it falls in. Individuals will wait on certain areas of their webs, depending upon their species, either in the end of the funnel or on top of the sheet. From both of these areas, the spiders can detect the smallest movements from potential mates, threats, or food.

Funnel weaver spiders attack their prey and inject toxic venom that disables them from escaping, but only one species has been found to have venom that is harmful to humans: the hobo spider. The venom from this spider can cause necrotic damage to the skin tissue.

Image Caption: A funnel weaver (species: grass spider) in Ontario, Canada. Credit: Tdot778/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)