Funnel Weaver Spider
Colorado Insects of Interest
Funnel Weaver Spider
Order: Araneae (Spiders)
Family: Agelenidae (Funnel weaver spiders)
Identification and Descriptive Features: Funnel weaver spiders are generally brownish or grayish spiders with a body typically ranging from1/3 to 2/3-inch when full grown. They have four pairs of eyes that are roughly the same size. The legs and body are hairy and legs usually have some dark banding. They are often mistaken for wolf spiders (Lycosidae family) but the size and pattern of eyes can most easily distinguish them. Like wolf spiders, the funnel weavers are very fast runners.
Among the three most common genera (Agelenopsis, Hololena, Tegenaria) found in homes and around yards, Agelenopsis (Figures 1, 2 and 3) is perhaps most easily distinguished as it has long tail-like structures extending from the rear end of the body. These structures are the spider’s spinnerets, from which the silk emerges. Males of this genus have a unique and peculiarly coiled structure (embolus) on their pedipalps (Figure 3), the appendages next to the mouthparts.
Hololena species often have similar appearance but lack the elongated spinnerets and male pedipalps have a normal clubbed appearance. Spiders within both genera usually have dark longitudinal bands that run along the back of the cephalothorax and an elongated abdomen.
Tegenaria species tend to have blunter abdomens marked with gray or black patches. Dark bands may also run along the cephalothorax, which is reddish brown with yellowish hairs in the species Tegenaria domestica (Figure 4). The four pairs of eyes are arranged in two, slightly curved rows, which is a more orderly arrangement than found on other funnel weaver spiders.
|Table 1. Checklist of funnel weaver spiders (Agelenidae) known from Colorado, with county records. This checklist is derived from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science Spider Survey Database and The Nearctic Spider Database.|
|Agelenopsis aleenae (Las Animas)|
|Agelenopsis aperta (Douglas, Arapahoe, Jefferson, Denver, Larimer, Adams, Elbert, El Paso, Montezuma)|
|Agelenopsis emertoni (Douglas, Denver, Jefferson, Montezuma)|
|Agelenopsis longistyla (Summit, Saguache, Conejos, Alamosa)|
|Agelenopsis naevia (Boulder)|
|Agelenopsis oklahoma (Weld, Larimer, Douglas, El Paso, Boulder, Teller, Montrose, Delta, Mesa)|
|Agelenopsis pennsylvanica (Jefferson, Denver, Adams, Boulder, Larimer, Weld, Douglas, Arapahoe, Yuma)|
|Agelenopsis potteri (Jefferson, Adams, Larimer, Denver, Douglas, Washington, Montezuma)|
|Agelenopsis spatula (Cheyenne, El Paso)|
|Agelenopsis utahana (Boulder, Larimer, Jefferson, Denver, Gilpin, Las Animas, Grand, Montezuma)|
|Calilena gertschi (Montezuma)|
|Calilena restricta (Mesa)|
|Hololena hola (Larimer, Jefferson, Boulder, Douglas, Arapahoe, Denver, El Paso, Las Animas, Garfield, Mesa, Delta, Montezuma, La Plata)|
|Hololena nevada (Larimer)|
|Hololena oquirrhenis (Mesa, Montrose, Delta)|
|Novalena lutzi (Boulder, Douglas, Garfield)|
|Tegenaria agrestis (hobo spider) (Boulder, Denver, Douglas, Jefferson, Adams, Arapahoe)|
|Tegenaria domestica (barn funnel weaver) (Larimer, Boulder, Jefferson, Arapahoe, Adams, El Paso, Otero, Denver, Douglas, Cheyenne, Chaffee, Jackson, Montezuma, Delta, Montrose, Garfield, Routt)|
|Tegenaria duellica (giant house spider) (Douglas)|
The spiders spend much of their time at the entrance of the retreat. They rush out rapidly to capture insect prey that may land on the sheet web and become temporarily entangled. Once subdued, the prey may be eaten at the point of capture or dragged back into the area of the retreat where it is alternately crushed with the jaws (chelicerae) and sucked dry of fluids.
The most common funnel weavers found outdoors are the “grass spiders” of the genus Agelenopsis. These often construct their webs in dense grass or mulch and the webs become very conspicuous in the morning dew. Low growing dense shrubs, notably junipers, are also areas commonly used for web building by grass spiders. When webs are constructed within or on buildings or on outdoor furniture the web is constructed around some crack or recessed area that the spider can use for the retreat. Nesting around buildings and essentially all indoor nesting by funnel weavers is typical of Tegenaria species, notably T. domestica.
Life history varies a bit among the funnel weavers that occur in Colorado. The grass spiders (Agelenopsis) appear to have a one-year life cycle, with eggs being the overwintering stage. Immature stages then develop in spring and summer. However, the appearance of adult stages during the year can vary. For example, males of Agelenopsis aperta are most abundant in June, July, and August suggesting that they mature early in the year. Agelenopsis pennsylvanica matures later, with males being found from August-October with a September peak. Numbers of adult females also peak in late summer and early autumn. Both sexes of this species frequently move into homes with cooler weather in late summer, but do not successfully establish within buildings and all die out by winter. The egg sacs produced by these spiders are lens shaped and are tucked into the area of the retreat.
The life cycle of Hololena hola is less clear. Adult males are primarily present in September and October, although a few are seen in spring and early summer. Adult females are present year round, suggesting that life cycles extend more than one season and overlap. When found in homes the great majority of this species are males.
A life cycle that extends over more than one year is common with Tegenaria domestica. Both immature and adult stages can be found surviving the winter months. Peak numbers of adult males are present in June and July, indicating mating occurs at this time. Egg sacs are may be suspended about the web. In captivity they have been reported to live up to seven years and produce up to nine egg sacs. Adult spiders encountered in homes are most likely to be males, which wander considerably during summer.
Although they are probably most often mistaken for wolf spiders due to their appearance, their presence in the home and brownish coloration most often raise concerns whether they are brown recluse spiders. However, funnel weavers can be easily distinguished from brown recluses by several features including patterning of the abdomen, banding on the legs, and hairiness of the body and legs, among other characters. A more extensive discussion of identification features is included in the Extension Fact Sheet (5.607) Brown recluse spiders in Colorado: Recognition and spiders of similar appearance.
The common name “funnel weaver” or, particularly “funnel-web weaver,” also is a source of potential confusion. This is because there is another family of very different spiders known as “funnelweb spiders” (Hexathelidae family) which make a tubular web retreat. One member of this family is the notorious “Sydney funnelweb spider” (Atrax robusta), an Australian species with a dangerous bite that has been associated with some human deaths. No species from this family of spiders occur in Colorado.
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