Funnel web spiders are known for their unique webs, which feature dense silk mats and a funnel-like structure. These spiders are commonly found in homes, particularly during late summer and early fall. While they may not be harmful, their presence can be unsettling for many homeowners. It’s important to take a proactive approach to manage their population.
One effective method to control funnel web spiders is a combination of sanitation and pesticides. Keeping your home clean and free of clutter can discourage spiders from setting up residence. Additionally, pesticides specifically targeted at these spiders can be applied in areas where they are most likely to build their webs. This may include corners of your home or dense vegetation outdoors.
Another useful technique is to eliminate their food sources by controlling other insect populations in your home. This not only helps reduce the funnel web spiders’ presence but also keeps your house free from other pests. Keeping your home well sealed and maintaining cleanliness will go a long way in managing this issue.
Identifying Funnel Web Spiders
Appearance and Color
Funnel web spiders have a unique appearance that sets them apart from other spiders. They are slim and often have shades or stripes of gray and brown. For example, the barn funnel weaver spider has a red-brown cephalothorax with pale-yellow hairs and a pinkish to pale flesh-colored abdomen, marked by gray to black patches.
Habitat and Web Location
These spiders are commonly found in grass, weeds, and ground covers, preferring habitats that are horizontal. The web construction is distinctive, consisting of a large, mostly horizontal, sheet-like structure with a funnel or tunnel located off to one side. This type of web can be seen in grass spiders.
Diet and Prey
Funnel web spiders feed on various insects that are trapped in their webs. Their unique web shape allows them to catch prey more efficiently, as the insects are trapped on the surface, while the spider awaits hidden in the funnel.
Spider Species and Relatives
Funnel web spiders belong to the family Agelenidae and are often confused with other species. Their closest relatives, like the black widow spider or brown recluse, are easily distinguishable. For example, a brown recluse has uniformly colored legs and abdomen, while a hobo spider has a similar appearance but not the unique web structure.
|Characteristic||Funnel Web Spider||Hobo Spider||Brown Recluse||Black Widow|
|Body Length||6-11.5 mm||11-14 mm||6-20 mm||3-13 mm|
- Funnel web spiders have unique web structures and color patterns.
- Hobo spiders are less famous for their webs and have a brown-grey color pattern.
- Brown recluse spiders have uniform coloration on their legs and abdomens.
- Black widow spiders are identified by their orb-shaped webs and black coloration.
Understanding the Risks
Venom and Spider Bites
Funnel web spiders are known for their dangerous venom. While not all funnel web spiders are toxic, some species, like the Sydney funnel web spider, have venom that poses a significant risk, especially to children and the elderly. Bites typically occur when the spider feels threatened, often in situations involving wood piles, basements, or other undisturbed areas.
Signs and Symptoms of Bites
When bitten by a venomous funnel web spider, symptoms can range from minor irritation to severe reactions. Common signs of a spider bite include:
However, a more serious bite may lead to additional symptoms such as:
- Difficulty breathing
- Increased heart rate
Medical Attention and Treatment
For a suspected funnel web spider bite, prompt medical attention is essential, particularly for children and the elderly. Initial at-home treatment can involve:
- Cleaning the bite with soap and water
- Applying a cold pack to reduce swelling
- Taking an over-the-counter antihistamine or pain reliever
In cases of severe reactions, seeking urgent medical care is vital. Professionals may administer an antivenom or provide other treatments dependent on the severity of the bite.
To minimize the risk of funnel web spider bites, you can take various preventive measures:
- Clear away wood piles, debris, and clutter in and around your home
- Seal gaps in walls, windows, and doors
- Regularly clean basements and attics
- Utilize natural spider predators like ants
By understanding funnel web spiders and their potential risks, you can take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your home from these arachnids, while also seeking appropriate treatment if a bite occurs.
Preventing Funnel Web Spider Infestations
Sealing Gaps and Cracks
To prevent funnel web spider infestations, start with sealing gaps and cracks around your home. Focus on areas like windows, doors, eaves, and your home’s foundation. Use caulk to seal any crevices and ensure screens on windows and doors are in good condition. This helps keep not only funnel web spiders, but other pests as well, from entering your home.
- Seal gaps around windows and doors
- Apply caulk to crevices in the foundation and eaves
- Ensure screens are intact and properly installed
Maintaining a Clean Home Environment
A clean home environment can also deter funnel web spiders from settling indoors. Regularly vacuum your home, especially in corners and crawl spaces, to remove webs, spider eggs, and potential food sources for spiders. Focus on reducing clutter and keep items off the floor to limit hiding spots for spiders. Don’t forget to clean outdoor spaces like attics, sheds, and under rocks and bushes where spiders may create burrows.
- Vacuum regularly, especially in corners and crawl spaces
- Reduce clutter and keep items off the floor
- Clean outdoor spaces like attics, sheds, and garden areas
Using Insecticides and Traps
Insecticides and traps can help prevent funnel web spider infestations. Sticky traps, for example, can catch spiders that venture indoors. For outdoor preventative treatment, apply insecticides around the perimeter of your home, targeting entry points and burrows. It’s essential to consider the safety of any products used, particularly if you have pets or small children.
|Effective outdoors||Useful indoors|
|Need to be cautious with pets/children||Pet-friendly option|
Remember to always wear gloves when handling insecticides, cleaning up webs, or removing trapped spiders to avoid potential spider bites. By following these prevention tips, you can significantly reduce the risk of a funnel web spider infestation in your home.
Protecting Your Home and Garden
Removing Potential Hiding Spots
To keep funnel web spiders away, eliminate their hiding spots:
- Clear away rocks, debris, and woodpiles
- Trim tall grass and bushes near your home
- Seal any gaps, holes, or cracks in the foundation
Example: If your garden has a shed, make sure it’s free of clutter and cobwebs.
Regular Inspection and Cleaning
Inspect your home regularly to stay ahead of any potential infestations:
- Check attics, crawl spaces, and basements for spiders and webs
- Sweep away cobwebs and spider webs regularly
- Maintain clean indoors to discourage small insects, which attracts spiders
Taking Extra Precautions with Children, Elderly, and Pets
Funnel web spiders aren’t aggressive but can be dangerous. Take extra care around vulnerable members of the household:
- Install screens on windows and doors
- Teach children to avoid handling spiders
- Keep an eye on pets when they play outdoors
Spider Prevention Methods: Pros and Cons
|Chemical Treatments||Effective in eliminating spiders||May harm other insects and wildlife|
|Natural Remedies||Non-toxic and eco-friendly||May require more frequent application|
Note: Use gloves when handling rocks or debris to avoid accidental bites from hidden spiders.
By implementing regular inspections, cleaning, and precautions, you can protect your home and garden from funnel web spiders and maintain a safe environment for everyone.
Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.
Letter 1 – Grass Spider Walks on Water in New Jersey!!!
Subject: Mystery Fishing Spider
Location: North Plainfield, New Jersey
July 23, 2015 7:53 am
This guy has been hanging out on my pool these past few days. It’s clearly some kind of fishing spider but I can’t figure out what species. From the markings, it doesn’t look quite like any of the more common local species. Any guesses?
Though it is walking on water, this is not a Fishing Spider, which explains why its markings look different. Among Spiders, walking on water is not miraculous and species other than Fishing Spiders, including Wolf Spiders are able to walk on water because the spread of their legs helps to distribute the weight of the body. The pronounced spinnerets at the tip of the abdomen are a factor in identifying this as a Grass Spider, possibly Agelenopsis pennsylvanica, one of the Funnel Weavers, which is pictured on BugGuide.
Thanks so much, Daniel! I wish I had something witty or something more meaningful to say, but that’s all I got. I’m happy to be schooled on the subject of Fishing and Not-So-Fishing Spiders. Hurray!
Letter 2 – Grass Spider Webs
Spider Pictures on lawn -in plants
These are the spiders I wrote you about yesterday, as you can see they are all over our porch, plants, and lawn. Thank you!
Beth in RI
You have Grass Spiders, Agelenopsis species. They are found in grassy areas and low shrubs and near buildings. They build a horizontal sheet web with a funnel extending from the center to one edge. They run quickly when an unlucky insect stumbles into the web. The webs become very obvious in the morning when covered in dew. Nice lawn photo.
Letter 3 – Grass Spiders
I just discovered your web site while doing a google search in an effort to find out what is decorating our Minnesota lawn overnight. What an amazing and informative site you have… it’s terrific! I did not, however, find an answer to my decorating question. I don’t have a photo of a bug, but rather the results of its handiwork. It’s apparently a spider (or rather, many thousands of spiders) doing this job. ALL of the large grassy area is covered by these webs. Do you have any idea what does this? The only guess I can come up with, considering that the webs are all pretty much parallel, is that they are webs that float in the air during the day and they drop when the breeze dies and the dew sets in. Then again, there really wasn’t much dew this morning when I took these photos…. just the webs sparkling in the sunlight. Or maybe it’s the silks left behind by a herd of caterpillars heading south for the winter???? Thanks for your help!
Once, long ago, we answered this question, and it is somewhere in the Spider archive which currently consists of five general pages and several other specialty pages. These are Grass Spider Webs. Grass Spiders are funnel web builders in the family Agelenidae. Often lawns are covered as your photo indicates, and the webs are most visible in the morning when they catch dew.
Letter 4 – Male Grass Spider
pointy abdomen spider
I’ve browsed and browsed your fabulous website for a match for this spider that I keep finding in my house. there are some almost-like-it pictures but none that I can definitely identify as the one. could you set my mind at ease or let me know if having this spider in my house is a risk? they are rather large and fast and freak me out a bit, though this one was rather calm. I think he must have just had some traumatic event happen in which he lost a leg. I put him in the garden. thanks and keep this great thing going. I enjoy your site immensely.
Amy in Utah
This is one of the Funnel Web Spiders also known as Grass Spiders, genus Agelenopsis. They are harmless. Thank you for releasing it. You’re our kinda gal.
Letter 5 – Grass Spider
Location: Cincinnati Ohio
July 24, 2013 7:12 am
This fellow has set up camp inside my kitchen window. While I find it interesting to watch him catch his food, I miss having an open window. Can I safely move him to the back of the yard? What is he?
Signature: Sally B
Dear Sally B,
We believe because of the prominent pair of spinnerets, that this is a Grass Spider in the genus Agelenopsis, as pictured on BugGuide. According to BugGuide: “Agelenopsis spp. spiders are “lightning-quick”; often people only get a glance of it before it disappears behind or under something” and “These spiders are docile and non-aggressive. They will flee at the first sign of a threat and will not bite unless they feel threatened without an option to escape. (e.g. – Trying to pick the spider up).” The best way to relocate the Grass Spider is to trap it under a glass, slip a postcard under the opening and transport to a more suitable location.
Letter 6 – Grass Spider
Subject: How many species of wolf spiders
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
September 19, 2015 4:41 pm
I know you can’t tell me exactly, but I just keep wondering if every nasty and huge spider we see is a wolf spider. We recently moved to my grandmothers (west of Cleveland Oh) to help out and her yard is like upper class Manhattan for spiders (or any bug) …. Overgrown everything from weeds to grass. Stick piles, a garage no one goes in, overgrown brush and thicket. My husband started clearing everything up and WOW! Just the amount of spiders was ridiculous but the size and ugliness worse. And now that he is taking away their homes, they’re going anywhere and everywhere else. At night you can go outside the back porch and see at least 6 just hanging there. I have the true definition of arachnophobia and even I know it’ll get worse before better. But just wondering that maybe these are all just ugly wolf spiders?
You probably have orb weavers if they are just hanging in webs.
I believe that the hanging ones are but the attached are not.
The one with the spinnerets on the end of the abdomen is a Grass Spider, the other a Wolf Spider.
Letter 7 – Grass Spider
Subject: What is this guy?
Location: central NJ
August 31, 2016 11:17 am
I saw this spider in the gym today and nearly left (I’m not a big fan of spiders). we tried to shoo him out the door but he kept running the wrong way. Finally we convinced him to go outside. He was probably the size of a half dollar and he was quite fast.
Any idea what it is?
The spinnerets on the tips of the abdomen help to identify your spider as a Grass Spider in the genus Agelenopsis which you can verify by comparing your spider to the one in this BugGuide image. According to BugGuide: “These spiders are very common throughout the United States and Canada. Their webs will ‘litter’ the low-hanging shrubs and grass in summer to early fall, and are really noticable after a nice early morning dew. They are fairly easily identified: a “small” brown spider with longitudinal striping, the arrangement of their eight eyes into two rows. (The top curved row has four eyes and the bottom curved row has four eyes). They also have two prominent hind spinnerets. A spinneret is a spider’s silk spinning organ. They are usually on the underside of a spider’s abdomen, to the rear. On many spiders, the spinnerets cannot be seen easily without flipping the spider over; however, with Agelenopsis, the spinnerets are readily seen without having to flip the spider over. “
Thank you. I thought it might be a wolf spider. Good to know it’s not.
They do look quite similar to Wolf Spiders.
Letter 8 – Grass Spider, we Believe
Subject: Big spider takes over rat trap
Location: Kansas City MO
August 6, 2017 11:45 am
Hi! Was wondering if you could identify this big spider. I am in northwestern Missouri.
We believe this is a Funnel Web Spider in the family Agelenidae, probably a Grass Spider in the genus Agelenopsis like the one in this BugGuide image. See BugGuide for more on Funnel Web Spiders.
Letter 9 – Grass Spider, we believe
Subject: Help with ugly spider id
Location: Modesto, California
April 28, 2015 3:14 pm
I was wondering if you could help us identify the spider we found outside our door today?
We believe, because of the large, prominent spinnerets at the tip of the abdomen, that your individual is a Funnel Web Spider in the family Agelenidae, and a Grass Spider in the genus Agelenopsis, and you can compare your individual to this image from BugGuide. According to BugGuide: “They also have two prominent hind spinnerets. A spinneret is a spider’s silk spinning organ. They are usually on the underside of a spider’s abdomen, to the rear. On many spiders, the spinnerets cannot be seen easily without flipping the spider over; however, with Agelenopsis, the spinnerets are readily seen without having to flip the spider over. Agelenopsis spp. also have somewhat indistinct bands on their legs.”
Letter 10 – Male Barn Funnel Web Weaver Spider
Subject: Tengellid family, I hope?
Location: San Francisco CA USA
May 23, 2014 7:40 pm
In late-February this year, I saw a small almost black-looking spider run across a cabinet and disappear down the side by the stove, too fast to catch. It was probably the size of one of the now-dead-and-dried-up babies in the pictures. I almost never find any bugs other than an occasional moth, fruit fly, or tiny pantry beetle (identified on your great site!) in my large work-space. (No windows, no plumbing, few critters.) I left for a month in Mexico the next day and forgot about the spider. When I returned in late March, there were two small dead-and-dried spiders in an empty plastic bin on the floor under the cabinet where I’d seen the live one a month before. I saved them in a jar for a possible art piece. There didn’t appear to be any webs or more spiders in the cabinet when I poked around a bit, so I forgot about them again, because spiders in the house scare me unreasonably, though I’m not afraid of them when I garden, and admire them very much outdo ors. But YESTERDAY, when I pulled out the plastic bin, there was the HUGE one lying in the bottom, still very-um– flexible, as I discovered when I stopped freaking. I got it spread out and photographed (a LOT because of shaking hands), then thought to put a quarter by it for scale. The flash on my OLD digital camera makes it look lighter then it really is, plus I have fluorescent work lights overhead, but wanted you to see as much detail as possible. Today I realized the markings seem the same on the two dead small ones I found in March, so I put them all together in the other two photos. From the info I found in WTB about “false Brown Recluse” and Tengellid/Titiotus examples, I think this may be what I have, but I’d really like to know for sure. AND when I tear the cabinet apart and really search under and in everything in the vicinity, how DANGEROUS, if at all, is their bite? Also, am I likely to find clusters or heaps or large groups of them? Do they make webs? Or do they just stomp around independently? How big do they get, and WHAT DO THEY WANT???? I KNOW you’re swamped with questions, so thanks VERY much for any info YOU can give me, or point me to the best places to look for as much information as I can find. I LOVE your site and tell as many people as I can about it. I find it fascinating and a very reassuring learning place!
In our opinion, the images of the spiders you submitted look nothing like the Tengellid Spider we have pictured in our archives. We are requesting assistance with its identification and we hope to get back to you soon with an identification. Perhaps one of our readers will be able to provide some information.
Thanks, Daniel–I never expected such a quick reply! And of course you’re quite right. I was looking at it out of fear, seeing violins and colors far from reality, and ran screaming to your site for a tranquilizer…! Later, I checked some links you have listed and did some READING about recluse spiders, then looked at many, many pictures of other more possible types, including various Grass Spiders and even Wolf Spiders, which a friend suggested. But what I learned about the Brown Recluse of my fear and the myths associated with it (especially here in Northern California, for pete’s sake!) blew the handcuffs off my brain. I’ve copied some facts about them and cited sources, which will be shared with every gardener and camper I know, so we can all stop being afraid of instant death from the brown (and black and tan) spiders that DO live among us, and start being “cautious but curious” instead! I no longer feel that my studio is in danger of being overrun by packs of snarling arachnids sporting violin-shaped tattoos and thirsting for blood. I feel foolish for acting foolishly, and hope I haven’t wasted your time. Thanks ever so much, Daniel and all, for referring “my” spider to readers who may have come across this type and can identify it and its behavior, so I can learn how to behave!
Eric Eaton provides an identification
Male funnel-web weaver, family Agelenidae. Can’t tell more from the image.
I’m sending this to you, Daniel, because I’m not sure if I should send it with the photos to the “Comment” section on your site. You’ve been so generous with your time and knowledge and I’m very grateful! I extend many thanks to Eric for the identification, and apologies for the hasty images. I’m adding a few more that may be more helpful (at least when zoomed somewhat in Windows Picture Viewer). SPIDER_013 is an underside flash shot of the big guy, (also a copy, Spider_013, over- sharpened in Elements 9, hoping for better detail), and SPIDER2_040 is an underside flash shot of the two small ones I found dead in the empty plastic bin the last week of March. SPIDER_007 is probably the best shot I have showing EYES (when zoomed), and SPIDER_008 is the back end (sort of amazing when zoomed). Now that I know more about what kind of web(s) to look for, I’ll have to start checking my cluttered space for any kids or relatives, and move them to a more appropriate OUTDOOR environment, if I can. And if these photos help narrow down the I.D. possibilities, I’ll have even more information to gather, because this is becoming a VERY interesting learning experience. (At least when I’m not jumping at shadows…) Thanks again. A small donation will be coming to your site in a day or two. Wish it could be more, but artists in San Francisco are also working mostly for the love of it, not money…
Images cannot be attached to comments, only to identification requests. We are posting the image you have indicated that shows the eyes the best. Thanks for your kind words and support.
Mandy Howe provides some input: June 8, 2014
Very sorry for the delay, I was visiting family in Utah, so am behind (don’t have a laptop or anything that I take with me on trips).
The “larger” spider on the right in both images is definitely just a common adult male Tegenaria domestica, found in almost every house in North America. Not dangerous to humans, and is typically found during mating season when they roam at night. They often crawl into sinks or bathtubs for a drink of water and then can’t climb the slippery surface to get out, so people find them most often in those places in the morning.
The other dead spiders on the left in the first image are in the family Gnaphosidae so, in San Francisco, they could be Scotophaeus blackwalli (the “mouse spider”) or Herpyllus propinquus (the “western parson spider”)… those are the two most common species found in homes on the west coast, at least. (I can’t see the abdomen on them to tell which species.)
Hope that helps!