How to Identify a Funnel Web Spider

Funnel web spiders are one of the most venomous spiders in Australia. The female spider produces a funnel-shaped web in damp places. It is quite important to identify funnel web spiders apart from their relatives. Generally, these spiders are black to dark brown in color. They are large compared to their relatives. They have shiny black, hairless cephalothorax. Long legs are one of the characteristic features of funnel web spiders.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is a Funnel Web Spider
     – Definition, Fats, Classification
2. How to Identify a Funnel Web Spider
     – Characteristic Features of Funnel Web Spiders

Key Terms: Abdomen, Body Size, Color, Funnel Web Spider, Legs, Venom

How to Identify a Funnel Web Spider - Infograph

What are Funnel Web Spiders

Funnel web spiders are a type of spiders that build funnel-shape, silk-lined webs used as burrows or traps for prey. They are mainly found in both coastal and mountain regions of eastern and southern Australia. Generally, funnel web spiders are also called grass spiders as they prefer to live in grasslands. There are approximately 40 species of funnel web spiders. The two genera of funnel web spiders are Hadronyche and Atrax. Both genera produce dangerous venoms. However, Atrax is more venomous than Hadronyche, and 14 recorded deaths have been caused by them. In addition, the Sydney funnel spider (Atrax robustus) is the most dangerous spider in Australia. The funnel web on grass is shown in figure 1.

How to Identify a Funnel Web Spider_Figure 1

Figure 1: Funnel Web

How to Identify a Funnel Web Spider

The identification of funnel web spider is mainly based on the morphological features of the spider. Several features are involved in the identification of funnel web spiders from their relatives.

  1. Fairly large body size
  2. General body color is black
  3. Black or dark plum-colored abdomen – Females have lighter colored abdomen when they carry lots of eggs.
  4. Long, black color legs
  5. Shiny black, hairless cephalothorax
  6. Females construct funnel webs on damp soil, grass or tree trunks

The characteristics of male and female funnel web spiders are described below.

Male and Female Funnel Web Spiders

How to Identify a Funnel Web Spider

Figure 2: Male and Female Spiders

Characteristics

Male Spider

Female Spider

Body length

25 mm

30 mm

Color

Black to very dark brown

Very dark brown

Behavior

Leave the burrow, wandering in search of food

Stay in the barrow, grabbing any passing prey

Legs

Longer legs, more slender, and quite bristly

Shorter legs, less slender, and less bristly

Abdomen

Smaller abdomen, long slender spinnerets on the rear of the abdomen.

Bigger abdomen

Spur on second front leg

Present

Absent

Behavior

More robust

Less robust

Venomous nature

One of the most venomous spiders

Extremely venomous

Conclusion

Funnel web spiders are one of the most venomous spiders in Australia who produce a funnel-shaped web on grass. They are fairly large spiders with long legs. They are black to dark brown in color. They also have a shiny black, hairless cephalothorax.

Reference:

1. Funnel-Web Spiders – Australian Museum, .
2. “Sydney Funnel Web Spider Facts.” Planet Deadly, 9 Dec. 2013, .

Image Courtesy:

1.”Atrax Robustus” By Sputniktilt – Own work via
2. “Spider Web in the Grass” by Tony Atkin via

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things

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