Where Are Funnel Web Spiders Found? Discover Their Habitats Today!

Funnel web spiders are fascinating creatures with a unique way of catching their prey. They are known for their distinct, funnel-shaped webs which they carefully construct as an effective trap for insects. You might be curious to know where these spiders can be found, so let’s explore their habitat and distribution.

These spiders belong to the family Agelenidae, and can be found across the United States. For instance, the barn funnel weaver spider is commonly found in places like basements, barns, sheds, and other structures in Ohio. In fact, nineteen species of funnel weaver spiders can be found throughout Colorado, making them one of the most common spiders in the state.

As you go about your day, pay attention to your surroundings, especially near the ground where you might spot their intricate webs covered in dew during late summer and early fall. Remember, these spiders are usually harmless to humans, so take a moment to appreciate their natural beauty and the fascinating way they have adapted to catch their prey.

About Funnel Web Spiders

Funnel web spiders, belonging to the family Atracidae, are heavy-bodied spiders with powerful fangs and venom glands. These spiders are known for their unique funnel-shaped webs that serve as both a home and a trap for their prey.

You can typically find funnel web spiders in various locations across North America, such as in Ohio and Colorado. They are commonly encountered in homes, gardens, and landscapes.

Male and female funnel web spiders differ in size. Female spiders usually range between 7.5 and 11.5 millimeters, while males are between 6 and 9 millimeters in length. They have a light brown body color with some dark markings.

Here are some characteristics of funnel web spiders:

  • Abdomen ranges from pinkish to pale flesh color with a pattern of gray to black patches.
  • Funnel webs are often found close to the ground and covered with dew.
  • Female spiders lay eggs in a sac and die in the fall after depositing their eggs.

Funnel web spiders have a diet that primarily consists of insects. They sit at the end of their funnel-shaped web, waiting for insects to get caught in the sticky silk.

Spider bites from funnel web spiders are generally not harmful to humans, but it’s important to avoid unnecessary contact with them. Always exercise caution when dealing with spiders and their webs.

To recap, funnel-web spiders are fascinating creatures that can be found in various parts of North America. Their unique web structure, as well as their diet and other characteristics, make them an interesting and essential part of the ecosystem.

Most Notorious Species

Sydney Funnel-Web Spider

The Sydney Funnel-Web Spider (Atrax robustus) is part of the Atracidae family and is considered one of the most dangerous spiders in the world due to its venom toxicity. These spiders are mainly found in the Sydney area. When identifying them, watch for:

  • Shiny black or brown body
  • Legs with a glossy appearance
  • Length: 35-50 mm (males), 30-40 mm (females)

The Sydney Funnel-Web Spider’s venom contains atracotoxins, which can be life-threatening to humans.

Northern Tree-Dwelling Funnel-Web Spider

The Northern Tree-Dwelling Funnel-Web Spider (Hadronyche formidabilis) belongs to the Hadronyche genus and is known for its potential danger. Additionally, they are found in the forests of northern New South Wales and southeastern Queensland. Key identifying features include:

  • Brown or black body
  • Long, slender legs
  • Length: 20-30 mm (males), 30-50 mm (females)

Although venomous bites can be life-threatening, there have been no recorded human fatalities from this species.

Australian Funnel-Web Spider

The Australian Funnel-Web Spider also belongs to the Atracidae family, including several genera such as Atrax, Hadronyche, and Illawarra. Found all across Australia, these spiders can have varying characteristics. However, they generally share these traits:

  • Shiny, dark body
  • Length: 10-50 mm

Bites from some species within the Australian Funnel-Web Spider group can cause severe symptoms, but not all are equally toxic.

Queensland Funnel-Web Spider

Queensland Funnel-Web Spiders (Hadronyche infensa) are primarily found in Queensland and are part of the Hadronyche genus. They are also recognized by:

  • Dark brown or black body
  • Stout appearance
  • Length: 20-32 mm (males), 30-45 mm (females)

While the venom of Queensland Funnel-Web Spiders may not be as potent as their Sydney counterparts, they can still deliver painful and potentially dangerous bites.

Spider Species Distribution Body Length (mm) Toxicity Level
Sydney Funnel-Web Spider (Atrax robustus) Sydney area 35-50 (males), 30-40 (females) Life-threatening
Northern Tree-Dwelling Funnel-Web Spider (Hadronyche formidabilis) Northern New South Wales, Southeastern Queensland 20-30 (males), 30-50 (females) Potentially dangerous
Australian Funnel-Web Spider All across Australia 10-50 Varies
Queensland Funnel-Web Spider (Hadronyche infensa) Queensland 20-32 (males), 30-45 (females) Painful and potentially dangerous

It’s crucial to take caution with any funnel-web spider encounters and, in case of a bite, seek immediate medical attention. Institutions like the Australian Reptile Park and the Queensland Museum are engaged in research and programs related to these spiders, contributing valuable knowledge and precautions for public safety.

Habitats and Distribution

Funnel web spiders are found in various regions across the globe. Their habitats include both natural environments and human-made structures. In this section, we will discuss the distribution and common locations of these spiders.

In Australia, funnel web spiders are predominantly found in the eastern parts, including Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria, and South Australia. However, the specific species in the Australian region differ from those found in North and South America.

North America is home to the Agelenidae family of funnel weaver spiders, commonly found in Ohio. These spiders create funnel-shaped webs in homes, gardens, and landscapes. Grass spiders, another variety, belong to the same family and are also found in North America.

In contrast, South America has its own species of funnel web spiders, but their habitats are quite similar. They can be found in gardens and houses, typically building their webs close to the ground.

As for the hobo spider, a well-known member of the Agelenidae family, its habitat ranges across the northwestern United States and parts of Europe. These spiders are usually found in basements and other dark, secluded areas of human dwellings.

To summarize, funnel web spiders live in various habitats across the globe, including Australia, North America, and South America. They are commonly found in gardens, homes, and landscapes, building their distinctive funnel-shaped webs close to the ground.

Prey Trapping and Feeding Habits

Funnel web spiders are known for their unique way of trapping prey. They create funnel-shaped webs close to the ground or in crevices. Here’s how they trap and feed on their prey:

  • They build funnel-like webs, usually protected by leaves or rocks.
  • The spider hides in the narrow end of the funnel, waiting for prey.
  • When prey, such as insects, small vertebrates, or other creatures, crosses the web, the spider rushes out to grab it.

These spiders are efficient hunters, relying on their sensitive spinnerets to detect prey movement. Their diet mainly consists of:

  • Insects
  • Small vertebrates like lizards and frogs
  • Other smaller spiders

Funnel web spiders have a broad menu, but they do not pose any threat to larger animals such as dogs. Thanks to their unique webs, they manage to catch and immobilize prey with ease, then retreat to their hiding spot to enjoy their meal. So, as you encounter these fascinating creatures, remember that they are a helpful part of your garden’s ecosystem, keeping the insect populations in check.

Anatomy Overview

Funnel web spiders are intriguing creatures, and understanding their anatomy is essential for a well-rounded perspective. Let’s dive into the physical characteristics of these spiders, including their body, fangs, silk, burrows, and color.

Body: Funnel web spiders possess a medium to large body size. Like other spiders, their body is divided into two main sections: the cephalothorax and the abdomen. On their cephalothorax, they have eight legs and two eyes. Their abdomen is often covered in various markings, adding to their distinctive appearance.

Fangs: These spiders have a pair of fangs that they use for hunting and self-defense. The fangs are powerful and deliver venom to subdue their prey.

Silk: Funnel web spiders produce a unique silk that is used for constructing their characteristic funnel-shaped webs. These webs serve as both a hunting ground and a home for these fascinating creatures.

Burrows: The funnel-shaped webs created by these spiders often lead to a burrow or a hidden area where the spider resides. These burrows can be found in various outdoor environments, such as under rocks or in dense vegetation.

Color: Funnel web spiders display a range of colors, from light brown to tan. They typically exhibit dark markings along their bodies, with two broad, dark, brownish bands running lengthwise along their abdomen, adding to their distinctive appearance.

By understanding the anatomy of funnel web spiders, you can better appreciate their unique role in the ecosystem. So the next time you encounter one of their trademark webs, take a moment to marvel at these fascinating arachnids.

Physical Characteristics

Funnel web spiders, also known as family Agelenidae, have distinctive features that set them apart from other spiders. They are medium to large-sized spiders with body lengths varying among different species.

These spiders are usually light brown or grayish with dark markings on their bodies. Their slim build might cause them to be mistaken for wolf spiders, but there are differences between the two types. For example, funnel web spiders have a more orderly arrangement of their markings than wolf spiders.

Here are some key characteristics of funnel web spiders:

  • Medium to large body size
  • Light brown or grayish color
  • Dark markings on the body
  • Slimmer than wolf spiders

While there are many species of funnel web spiders, funnel-web tarantulas are a separate group with different features and habitats. One notable difference is that male tarantulas, known as wandering males, often wander around to find mates.

As for venom, funnel web spiders in the U.S. are 99.9% harmless to humans. Their venom might cause mild irritation or discomfort but is not considered dangerous. However, some species of funnel-web tarantulas possess highly potent venom that can be harmful or even deadly to humans.

In conclusion, understanding the physical characteristics of different spiders helps you identify them accurately and take the necessary precautions. Keep an eye out for any funnel web spiders you may encounter, but remember that they are mostly harmless to humans.

Venom and Bites

Funnel web spiders can be found in various locations, and their bites may cause various symptoms. The venom of some species can be toxic, but antivenom is available for some of the more dangerous species. When it comes to envenomation, it’s vital to know what kind of spider has bitten you.

For example, the venom of the Australian funnel-web spider is highly toxic. However, an antivenom was developed in the 1980s, which has proven quite effective in treating bites from this particular species. On the other hand, the bites from North American funnel weaver spiders are generally less harmful and don’t usually require medical attention1.

Some common symptoms of a venomous spider bite include:

  • Pain at the site of the bite
  • Redness and swelling
  • Itching
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle aches and tremors

Different spiders exhibit distinct venom toxicity and bite effects2. Comparing the symptoms between funnel-web spiders and other venomous spiders, such as widow spiders, you can observe some similarities, as both may cause pain, redness, and swelling. However, widow spider bites typically also lead to headaches, irritability, and ataxia3.

To sum it up, funnel-web spider venom can range from highly toxic to relatively harmless. It’s essential to identify the spider that bit you and seek appropriate medical treatment if necessary. Meanwhile, be cautious and avoid any unnecessary risks when encountering these creatures.

Reproduction

Funnel weaver spiders are fascinating creatures known for their unique webs. In this section, you’ll learn about their reproduction process and behaviors.

These spiders have a fairly straightforward mating process. Males seek out females and, after mating, usually die. Females, on the other hand, mostly stay within their webs throughout their lives. Once they have mated, female funnel weavers create a disc-shaped egg case and lay up to 200 eggs inside.

Newly hatched spiderlings remain in the protective egg case until they’re ready to venture out. They generally stay close to the mother’s web at first, before dispersing to create their own funnel webs.

Funnel weaver spider reproduction has its quirks:

  • Males die shortly after mating
  • Females remain in their webs most of their lives
  • After mating, female spiders lay up to 200 eggs in a disc-shaped case
  • Spiderlings stay in the egg case until they’re ready to leave

This information is important for understanding the life cycle of these fascinating spiders and their unique reproduction patterns.

Human Interactions

Funnel web spiders are known for their potentially medically significant venom, which can cause serious harm to humans in some cases. While these spiders may pose a threat, it is essential to understand the likelihood of encountering them and the degree of danger they pose.

You may come across funnel web spiders in various habitats, such as gardens, forests, and even inside homes. However, they are more commonly found in Australia. It’s essential to be cautious, but remember that not all spiders you encounter are dangerous.

  • Human Deaths: Although rare, there have been reported cases of human deaths due to funnel web spider bites. Death can occur if the victim does not receive prompt and appropriate medical treatment.
  • Medical Significance: Funnel web spider bites can cause symptoms ranging from localized pain and swelling to more severe consequences, such as difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, and muscle spasms.

To minimize the risk when encountering funnel web spiders, take the following precautions:

  • Be careful when working outdoors, as they may hide in crevices, logs, or foliage.
  • Avoid placing your hands into spaces where you cannot see. Wear gloves when gardening or handling wood or rocks.
  • In case of a bite, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

By understanding the risks and taking the necessary precautions, you can safely coexist with funnel web spiders in their natural habitats.

Taxonomy

Funnel web spiders belong to the kingdom Animalia, phylum Arthropoda, subphylum Chelicerata, and class Arachnida. They are part of the order Araneae, which consists of all spider species.

Within the order Araneae, funnel web spiders belong to the family Agelenidae, which includes the genera Agelenopsis and Tegenaria. These spiders have some common characteristics, such as:

  • Light brown body with dark markings
  • Funnel-shaped webs used to capture prey
  • Females laying eggs in an egg sac

Here’s a comparison of the two common genera of funnel web spiders:

Genus Agelenopsis Tegenaria
Distribution North America Europe and America
Web Structure Funnel-shaped Funnel or sheet-like
Body Size 7.5-11.5mm (females), 6-9mm (males) Similar to Agelenopsis
Common Habitats Homes, gardens, landscapes Barns, basements, indoors

As mentioned earlier, these spiders can be found in various habitats, such as homes, gardens, and landscapes in North America. You might also encounter Tegenaria species in barns and basements. Both genera are known for their funnel-shaped webs, which are commonly seen in late summer and early fall, especially when covered with dew.

Remember to exercise caution around these spiders, but keep in mind they are mostly harmless to humans. Being aware of their taxonomy and characteristics will help you identify funnel web spiders in your surroundings and appreciate their role in the ecosystem.

Precautions and Treatment

When encountering funnel web spiders, it’s essential to take precautions since their bites can be potentially dangerous. If you suspect you’ve been bitten, seek immediate medical attention. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, tingling, sweating, agitation, and confusion.

Luckily, antivenom is available for funnel web spider bites, making them treatable. To reduce the risk of envenomation, avoid poking or provoking these spiders. In case you encounter one, remember these safety tips:

  • Keep a safe distance from the spider
  • Do not touch or attempt to pick up the spider
  • Use caution when reaching into concealed spaces where spiders may hide

In summary, be aware of funnel web spiders’ habitats and take necessary precautions to avoid risk of bites. If bitten, immediately seek medical assistance and antivenom for treatment. By following these guidelines, you can stay safe and navigate through areas where these spiders are found.

Identifying Funnel Web Spiders

Funnel web spiders, specifically those from the family Agelenidae, are commonly found in homes, gardens, and landscapes throughout the United States1. They primarily have a light brown body with dark markings2. Although most funnel web spiders are harmless to people, it’s essential to identify them and distinguish them from other potentially dangerous or deadly spiders3.

To help you identify funnel web spiders, consider the following characteristics:

  • They build funnel-shaped webs, often close to the ground, where they wait for insects2.
  • Their body shape is slimmer compared to wolf spiders3.
  • Males die after mating, and females usually live restricted to their webs3.

Remember, while some funnel web spiders might resemble wolf spiders or other dangerous species, they are generally harmless3. In comparison, deadly spiders like the Sydney funnel-web spider or the Black Widow have unique features that set them apart, such as a shiny black body with a red hourglass marking (Black Widow), or large fangs (Sydney funnel-web spider).

Footnotes

  1. Funnel Weaver Spiders – Colorado State University 2

  2. Poisonous Spiders: Bites, Symptoms, and Treatment 2 3

  3. Neurological effects of venomous bites and stings: snakes, spiders, and… 2 3 4 5

Reader Emails

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 – Funnel Web Spider from Nova Scotia

 

Large Tegenaria, not sure what type
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada
October 30, 2010 7:51 pm
Saw this spider outside my house Oct26,2010 late fall in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Very large spider for these parts, body 1.5cm long, tip to tip from legs was around 8cm.
I think its a Tegenaria but not sure if its type is a atrica or duellica
Signature: junponline

Funnel Web Spider

Dear junponline,
We agree that this is a Funnel Web Spider in the genus
Tegenaria, but any attempts at our making a species identification are purely speculation.  Our guess is the Giant House Spider,Tegenaria gigantea (synonym for Tegenaria duellica), though there are a few snags in that line of possibility.  This is a European species that was introduced to the Pacific Northwest along with several other European species, including its relative the Hobo Spider, Tegenaria agrestisBugGuide does not list Nova Scotia as a sighting location, and all sightings are confined to the west coast.  The physical description of the Giant House Spider on bugGuide is “No banding on the legs, but proportionally longer legs than its cousins T. agrestis or T. domestica” and that fits your spider.  BugGuide also indicates:  “The greater European house spider (T. gigantea) is not dangerous to people. Some people may be intimidated by their size as male legspans can reach 4 inches (100 mm). However, Rod Crawford has never known one to bite a human (though they certainly could if they tried); they are so docile he uses them as hands-on demonstrators for school children.  You may want to post your photo to BugGuide to see what their large group of contributors has to say, because this may prove to be the first eastern report for the Giant House Spider.


Letter 2 – Funnel Web Spider probably Grass Spider

 

Funnel Web Spider
Location:  Mountains of WNC
September 3, 2010 10:24 pm
Hello-
I’ve figured this is some kind of a funnel web spider. We’ve got at least 4 living in the bushes in front of our porch. This is the best shot I’ve been able to get (taken on 9/3/10). My question is, what *kind* of funnel web spider is it? There’s also some kind of shiny (and kinda slimy-looking) stuff in the web. Any ideas what that is? (If you need bigger photos, please let me know & I’ll be happy to send you the link to the Flickr pages.)
Thank you so much!
Signature:  Michele

Funnel Web Spider

Hi Michele,
We are guessing WNC stands for Western North Carolina.  According to BugGuide:  “For this family of spiders, the web is a horizontal, sheet-like web, with a small funnel-like tube off to a side (or for some species, the middle of the web). This funnel is what the family is named for, and is used by the spider for hunting and protection. The spider will lay in wait in the funnel, and when an insect flies into, or lands on the web, the spider will rush out, very quickly check to see if it is prey, and if it is prey, bite it. The venom is fast-acting on the prey, so once the prey is subdued (within a second or two), the spider will drag the prey back into the funnel (for safety while eating, and to prevent other insects from recognizing the danger that lurks on the web…)  Depending on the species, the web may or may not be sticky. If the web is not sticky, the web will actually become tangled around the prey’s feet, ensnaring it in the web. Sometimes, this may cause hardship for the spider later, because if the spider wanders across a web that is sticky… the spider does not know how to walk on a sticky web, and become prey for another funnel-web spider.
”  It appears that your spider may be a Grass Spider in the genus Agelenopsis, and according to BugGuide:  “The funnel web for Agelenopsis is a distinctive web, and often is noticed in bushes and grass, especially in the early fall mornings, where the dew has collected on the web. The webs can be expansive, covering several square feet, or just small webs in the grass.

Hi Daniel-
Yes, WNC is Western North Carolina.  Henderson County, to be a little more specific.  Thank you so much for the information!  I also appreciate you getting back to me so quickly.
Thanks again
-Michele

Letter 3 – Grass Spider

 

this one bites me Hi. Pls. (!) tell me the species name. They have been biting my legs when I mow for too long now! They have hundreds of webs all over the lawn which are characterized by a funnel or cone down which they retreat.
Tnks! Shaun

Dear Shaun,
Grass Spiders are members of the Funnel-web Spider Family, Agelenidae. Your spider looks like a Grass Spider, Agelena naevia. It is a large spider, often reaching an inch in length. They build abundant webs of the funnel type in grass, low shrubs and occasionally near buildings. Few people realize how many webs are in the grass until the webs are made visible in the morning by the dew. Grass Spiders live for a year and often occupy the same web unless it it disturbed. They have a retreat in the web, the funnel, where they hide until prey falls into the web. They then run accross the web and drag their prey into the tunnel, which often has a rear door if the spider needs to retreat. We suspect your bites have a different cause. Have you actually seen the spider attack you?

Thank you Daniel for this. While I have yet to actually see one bite me, I have to strongly suspect this may be the villain. I have two or more years track record of bites on my legs. No-one else in our family experiences this. This is an outdoor/a summertime specific phenomenon. After mowing I come in, and bites begin appearing that day and over the days following. Last year I had ten. I do not wish to repeat that. Almost all the webs (there were/are many) on the lawn, made visible by the morning dew as you quite rightly say, are of the funnel variety. What else would be doing this? As a person who is allergic to a number of things, I feel fairly confident this (correct me if I am wrong) relatively harmless villain is something to whose bite I experience an allergic reaction. There usually is a necrotic or cytotoxic reaction unless the bites are responded to promptly with effective medication. ‘Save me’ if my discomfort is pushing me into a rush to judgement or knee-jerk type of thing, although my thoughts on this ‘aggressor’ here is ‘if the shoe fits, wear it!’ Did you think of anything further in the light of all this? When the web page wouldn’t open (the error message said something to the effect of: ‘the site has exceeded monthly quotas,’ and that seemed to me to be odd as we are approximately in the middle of the month) I ‘googled,’ and google had a cached page. Scrolling down the left hand side ‘revealed’ your address, so this was how I was able to reach you. I was crushed when I had finally gotten the photo and couldn’t find the site, something I had originally done via a portal, the Microsoft Network or msn.com home page search utility. Cordially, Shaun

Hi Shaun,
While the Grass Spider is normally thought of as harmless, it is entirely possible that you have a sensitive reaction. All spiders have venom and all are capable of biting. Sadly, we are willing to agree with your theory.

Letter 4 – Funnel-Web Spider from Australia: Caution!!!

 

Subject: Big beast spider
Location: Australia
January 16, 2014 2:49 am
I live in California, but a friend of mine on the internet lives in Australia and sends me pictures of various critters that live there, including this Australian spider. We were talking about spiders one day and he mentioned that the spiders where I am at are NOTHING compared to the big beast spiders he has there, and according to the picture of this monster spider, this seems to be true. He couldn’t tell me what kind of spider, but he said I could use this photo he sent me to find out. So what kind of terrifying beast spider do we have here? I can tell this thing is angry too…..The fangs on this thing are incredible, I think I will have nightmares for the rest of my life…..O_O;
Signature: Brittany

Male Funnel Web Spider
Male Funnel Web Spider

Dear Brittany,
Australia has several spiders that are considered especially dangerous.  We found a nearly identical image on the Australian Spiders website and it is identified as a male Funnel Web Spider,
Atrax robustus.  The Australian Spiders site indicates:  “The Sydney Funnel-web Spider (Atrax robustus) is one of 36 species of funnel-web spiders in Australia (and it’s the only one that causes trouble).  Funnel-web spiders prefer moist cool habitats and you find them in the south eastern regions of Australia. They live in silk lined burrows and crevices. Their hideouts can easily be identified by the characteristic trip lines radiating from the entrance of the burrow.  The Sydney Funnel-web Spider is mostly found within a radius of 160km from Sydney. (There have been occasional sightings a bit further away.)  It is large (up to 4.5 cm for just the body), black, aggressive, and has powerful fangs.”  The site also states:  “The male Sydney Funnel-web spider is the most dangerous of the Australian spiders. (This is unusual. Normally the female spiders are more dangerous). Actually, I’d say it is the only Australian spider that can be called dangerous at all.”  According to the Australian Museum website:  “Sydney Funnel-webs are shiny, dark brown to black spiders with finger-like spinnerets (silk-spinning organs) at the end of their abdomen. Males have a large mating spur projecting from the middle of their second pair of legs. If threatened, Sydney Funnel-webs show aggressive behaviour, rearing and displaying their impressive fangs.”  The spinnerets are prominently pictured in the image you provided.

Letter 5 – Funnel Web Spider, we believe, from Australia

 

Subject: What spider is this
Location: Victoria
October 27, 2015 5:58 pm
Hi I found this guy running outside on a hot night. I have an idea of what it might be was hoping if you could tell me. Hopefully it’s not what I think it is
Signature: ?

Funnel Web Spider
Funnel Web Spider

We thought this looked like a male Trapdoor Spider, and when we began to research its identity, we thought we found a match with the Sydney Funnel Web Spider, Atrax robustus, which according to the Australian Museum site:  “are shiny, dark brown to black spiders with finger-like spinnerets (silk-spinning organs) at the end of their abdomen. Males have a large mating spur projecting from the middle of their second pair of legs. If threatened, Sydney Funnel-webs show aggressive behaviour, rearing and displaying their impressive fangs.”  Regarding the bite of the Sydney Funnel Web Spider, the Australian Museum states:  “Again, it is true that Sydney Funnel-webs have one of the most toxic venoms (to humans) of any spider. However, it is not true that all funnel-web bites are life-threatening. The venom of juvenile and female Sydney Funnel-web Spiders is much less toxic. Nor do they jump onto, or chase people, or live in houses – these are all urban myths.”  We then checked Animal Diversity Web and learned that Sydney Funnel Web Spiders are:  “Found only in Australia within a 160-kilometer radius of Sydney. There are other species of funnel-web spiders in Eastern Australia, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania” so we suspect your individual is a different species of Funnel Web Spider.  Since we will be away from the office for a few days and we are currently post-dating submissions to go live in our absence, we thought this would make a great Halloween posting, a holiday you probably do not have in Australia, as well as a good Bug of the Month for November 2015.  Poor spider appears to have met an untimely end, so in the spirit of promoting appreciation of the lower beasts, we are also tagging your submission as Unnecessary Carnage.

Funnel Web Spider
Funnel Web Spider

Thank you so much for the quick response.  I thought it was a Sydney funnel as well I’m not disrespecting you at all I have read the same information but I just don’t believe that they couldn’t be here in Victoria. I have sent the pics to several different sights and exterminators and they all say Sydney Funnel Web too so I don’t know what to do I’m just worried about my kids. So if you think it might be another type it would be fantastic if you can find out and let me know. Thanks again. Happy Halloween
Hayley Saunders

Hi Hayley,
If it is true that Sydney Funnel Web Spiders are found only within 160 kilometers of Sydney, then your spider is probably a different species.  It would stand to reason that other Funnel Web Spiders, especially if they are in the same genus, would look very similar, but perhaps do not have as dangerous a bite.  We would suggest taking it to your nearest natural history museum and ask if there is an arachnologist that could verify its identity. 

Reader Emails

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 – Funnel Web Spider from Nova Scotia

 

Large Tegenaria, not sure what type
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada
October 30, 2010 7:51 pm
Saw this spider outside my house Oct26,2010 late fall in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Very large spider for these parts, body 1.5cm long, tip to tip from legs was around 8cm.
I think its a Tegenaria but not sure if its type is a atrica or duellica
Signature: junponline

Funnel Web Spider

Dear junponline,
We agree that this is a Funnel Web Spider in the genus
Tegenaria, but any attempts at our making a species identification are purely speculation.  Our guess is the Giant House Spider,Tegenaria gigantea (synonym for Tegenaria duellica), though there are a few snags in that line of possibility.  This is a European species that was introduced to the Pacific Northwest along with several other European species, including its relative the Hobo Spider, Tegenaria agrestisBugGuide does not list Nova Scotia as a sighting location, and all sightings are confined to the west coast.  The physical description of the Giant House Spider on bugGuide is “No banding on the legs, but proportionally longer legs than its cousins T. agrestis or T. domestica” and that fits your spider.  BugGuide also indicates:  “The greater European house spider (T. gigantea) is not dangerous to people. Some people may be intimidated by their size as male legspans can reach 4 inches (100 mm). However, Rod Crawford has never known one to bite a human (though they certainly could if they tried); they are so docile he uses them as hands-on demonstrators for school children.  You may want to post your photo to BugGuide to see what their large group of contributors has to say, because this may prove to be the first eastern report for the Giant House Spider.


Letter 2 – Funnel Web Spider probably Grass Spider

 

Funnel Web Spider
Location:  Mountains of WNC
September 3, 2010 10:24 pm
Hello-
I’ve figured this is some kind of a funnel web spider. We’ve got at least 4 living in the bushes in front of our porch. This is the best shot I’ve been able to get (taken on 9/3/10). My question is, what *kind* of funnel web spider is it? There’s also some kind of shiny (and kinda slimy-looking) stuff in the web. Any ideas what that is? (If you need bigger photos, please let me know & I’ll be happy to send you the link to the Flickr pages.)
Thank you so much!
Signature:  Michele

Funnel Web Spider

Hi Michele,
We are guessing WNC stands for Western North Carolina.  According to BugGuide:  “For this family of spiders, the web is a horizontal, sheet-like web, with a small funnel-like tube off to a side (or for some species, the middle of the web). This funnel is what the family is named for, and is used by the spider for hunting and protection. The spider will lay in wait in the funnel, and when an insect flies into, or lands on the web, the spider will rush out, very quickly check to see if it is prey, and if it is prey, bite it. The venom is fast-acting on the prey, so once the prey is subdued (within a second or two), the spider will drag the prey back into the funnel (for safety while eating, and to prevent other insects from recognizing the danger that lurks on the web…)  Depending on the species, the web may or may not be sticky. If the web is not sticky, the web will actually become tangled around the prey’s feet, ensnaring it in the web. Sometimes, this may cause hardship for the spider later, because if the spider wanders across a web that is sticky… the spider does not know how to walk on a sticky web, and become prey for another funnel-web spider.
”  It appears that your spider may be a Grass Spider in the genus Agelenopsis, and according to BugGuide:  “The funnel web for Agelenopsis is a distinctive web, and often is noticed in bushes and grass, especially in the early fall mornings, where the dew has collected on the web. The webs can be expansive, covering several square feet, or just small webs in the grass.

Hi Daniel-
Yes, WNC is Western North Carolina.  Henderson County, to be a little more specific.  Thank you so much for the information!  I also appreciate you getting back to me so quickly.
Thanks again
-Michele

Letter 3 – Grass Spider

 

this one bites me Hi. Pls. (!) tell me the species name. They have been biting my legs when I mow for too long now! They have hundreds of webs all over the lawn which are characterized by a funnel or cone down which they retreat.
Tnks! Shaun

Dear Shaun,
Grass Spiders are members of the Funnel-web Spider Family, Agelenidae. Your spider looks like a Grass Spider, Agelena naevia. It is a large spider, often reaching an inch in length. They build abundant webs of the funnel type in grass, low shrubs and occasionally near buildings. Few people realize how many webs are in the grass until the webs are made visible in the morning by the dew. Grass Spiders live for a year and often occupy the same web unless it it disturbed. They have a retreat in the web, the funnel, where they hide until prey falls into the web. They then run accross the web and drag their prey into the tunnel, which often has a rear door if the spider needs to retreat. We suspect your bites have a different cause. Have you actually seen the spider attack you?

Thank you Daniel for this. While I have yet to actually see one bite me, I have to strongly suspect this may be the villain. I have two or more years track record of bites on my legs. No-one else in our family experiences this. This is an outdoor/a summertime specific phenomenon. After mowing I come in, and bites begin appearing that day and over the days following. Last year I had ten. I do not wish to repeat that. Almost all the webs (there were/are many) on the lawn, made visible by the morning dew as you quite rightly say, are of the funnel variety. What else would be doing this? As a person who is allergic to a number of things, I feel fairly confident this (correct me if I am wrong) relatively harmless villain is something to whose bite I experience an allergic reaction. There usually is a necrotic or cytotoxic reaction unless the bites are responded to promptly with effective medication. ‘Save me’ if my discomfort is pushing me into a rush to judgement or knee-jerk type of thing, although my thoughts on this ‘aggressor’ here is ‘if the shoe fits, wear it!’ Did you think of anything further in the light of all this? When the web page wouldn’t open (the error message said something to the effect of: ‘the site has exceeded monthly quotas,’ and that seemed to me to be odd as we are approximately in the middle of the month) I ‘googled,’ and google had a cached page. Scrolling down the left hand side ‘revealed’ your address, so this was how I was able to reach you. I was crushed when I had finally gotten the photo and couldn’t find the site, something I had originally done via a portal, the Microsoft Network or msn.com home page search utility. Cordially, Shaun

Hi Shaun,
While the Grass Spider is normally thought of as harmless, it is entirely possible that you have a sensitive reaction. All spiders have venom and all are capable of biting. Sadly, we are willing to agree with your theory.

Letter 4 – Funnel-Web Spider from Australia: Caution!!!

 

Subject: Big beast spider
Location: Australia
January 16, 2014 2:49 am
I live in California, but a friend of mine on the internet lives in Australia and sends me pictures of various critters that live there, including this Australian spider. We were talking about spiders one day and he mentioned that the spiders where I am at are NOTHING compared to the big beast spiders he has there, and according to the picture of this monster spider, this seems to be true. He couldn’t tell me what kind of spider, but he said I could use this photo he sent me to find out. So what kind of terrifying beast spider do we have here? I can tell this thing is angry too…..The fangs on this thing are incredible, I think I will have nightmares for the rest of my life…..O_O;
Signature: Brittany

Male Funnel Web Spider
Male Funnel Web Spider

Dear Brittany,
Australia has several spiders that are considered especially dangerous.  We found a nearly identical image on the Australian Spiders website and it is identified as a male Funnel Web Spider,
Atrax robustus.  The Australian Spiders site indicates:  “The Sydney Funnel-web Spider (Atrax robustus) is one of 36 species of funnel-web spiders in Australia (and it’s the only one that causes trouble).  Funnel-web spiders prefer moist cool habitats and you find them in the south eastern regions of Australia. They live in silk lined burrows and crevices. Their hideouts can easily be identified by the characteristic trip lines radiating from the entrance of the burrow.  The Sydney Funnel-web Spider is mostly found within a radius of 160km from Sydney. (There have been occasional sightings a bit further away.)  It is large (up to 4.5 cm for just the body), black, aggressive, and has powerful fangs.”  The site also states:  “The male Sydney Funnel-web spider is the most dangerous of the Australian spiders. (This is unusual. Normally the female spiders are more dangerous). Actually, I’d say it is the only Australian spider that can be called dangerous at all.”  According to the Australian Museum website:  “Sydney Funnel-webs are shiny, dark brown to black spiders with finger-like spinnerets (silk-spinning organs) at the end of their abdomen. Males have a large mating spur projecting from the middle of their second pair of legs. If threatened, Sydney Funnel-webs show aggressive behaviour, rearing and displaying their impressive fangs.”  The spinnerets are prominently pictured in the image you provided.

Letter 5 – Funnel Web Spider, we believe, from Australia

 

Subject: What spider is this
Location: Victoria
October 27, 2015 5:58 pm
Hi I found this guy running outside on a hot night. I have an idea of what it might be was hoping if you could tell me. Hopefully it’s not what I think it is
Signature: ?

Funnel Web Spider
Funnel Web Spider

We thought this looked like a male Trapdoor Spider, and when we began to research its identity, we thought we found a match with the Sydney Funnel Web Spider, Atrax robustus, which according to the Australian Museum site:  “are shiny, dark brown to black spiders with finger-like spinnerets (silk-spinning organs) at the end of their abdomen. Males have a large mating spur projecting from the middle of their second pair of legs. If threatened, Sydney Funnel-webs show aggressive behaviour, rearing and displaying their impressive fangs.”  Regarding the bite of the Sydney Funnel Web Spider, the Australian Museum states:  “Again, it is true that Sydney Funnel-webs have one of the most toxic venoms (to humans) of any spider. However, it is not true that all funnel-web bites are life-threatening. The venom of juvenile and female Sydney Funnel-web Spiders is much less toxic. Nor do they jump onto, or chase people, or live in houses – these are all urban myths.”  We then checked Animal Diversity Web and learned that Sydney Funnel Web Spiders are:  “Found only in Australia within a 160-kilometer radius of Sydney. There are other species of funnel-web spiders in Eastern Australia, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania” so we suspect your individual is a different species of Funnel Web Spider.  Since we will be away from the office for a few days and we are currently post-dating submissions to go live in our absence, we thought this would make a great Halloween posting, a holiday you probably do not have in Australia, as well as a good Bug of the Month for November 2015.  Poor spider appears to have met an untimely end, so in the spirit of promoting appreciation of the lower beasts, we are also tagging your submission as Unnecessary Carnage.

Funnel Web Spider
Funnel Web Spider

Thank you so much for the quick response.  I thought it was a Sydney funnel as well I’m not disrespecting you at all I have read the same information but I just don’t believe that they couldn’t be here in Victoria. I have sent the pics to several different sights and exterminators and they all say Sydney Funnel Web too so I don’t know what to do I’m just worried about my kids. So if you think it might be another type it would be fantastic if you can find out and let me know. Thanks again. Happy Halloween
Hayley Saunders

Hi Hayley,
If it is true that Sydney Funnel Web Spiders are found only within 160 kilometers of Sydney, then your spider is probably a different species.  It would stand to reason that other Funnel Web Spiders, especially if they are in the same genus, would look very similar, but perhaps do not have as dangerous a bite.  We would suggest taking it to your nearest natural history museum and ask if there is an arachnologist that could verify its identity. 

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  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

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  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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5 thoughts on “Where Are Funnel Web Spiders Found? Discover Their Habitats Today!”

  1. Thanks for the identification. And my goodness so this beast spider is pretty much dangerous too. I’ll be sure to stay away from these beastly spiders if at some point I’m in Australia. ^^;

    Reply

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