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Grass Spider FUNNEL WEAVERS & GRASS SPIDERS
Critter Files/Spiders/Funnel Weavers
By Blake Newton
University of Kentucky Department of Entomology
   
 
TAXONOMY

KINGDOM: Animalia | PHYLUM: Arthropoda | CLASS: Arachnida | ORDER: Araneae | FAMILY: Agelenidae (funnel weaver spiders)

 

WHAT IS A FUNNEL WEAVER?
LIFE CYCLE
ECOLOGY
PEST STATUS
COMMON KENTUCKY FUNNEL WEAVERS
COLLECTING & PHOTOGRAPHY
FUNNEL WEAVER FACTS
MYTHS, LEGENDS, AND FOLKLORE

 
WHAT IS A FUNNEL WEAVER?

Funnel weaver spiders closely resemble wolf spiders, but t hey can usually be distinguished from wolf spiders because wolf spiders do not build webs.  Funnel weavers are also usually lighter in build than wolf spiders.  Many common funnel weavers are also characterized by having bristly legs.  Most are brown, with gray, black, and tan markings.  All spiders in this family have 8 eyes.  Like all spiders, funnel weavers have 8 legs, 2 body parts (cephalothorax and abdomen), and no antennae.

What is a Grass Spider?
"Grass Spider" is a name used for the common funnel weaver spiders that build their webs in lawns and grassy fields.  They are the most commonly seen funnel weavers in Kentucky.

SIZE: Body length up to about 1"
 
LIFE CYCLE

Like all spiders, funnel weavers and grass spiders go through a simple metamorphosis.  Young funnel weavers and grass spiders hatch from eggs and look like tiny adults.  They shed their skin as they grow.

 
ECOLOGY

Funnel weavers and grass spiders build funnel-shaped webs close to the ground.  The spider hides in the narrow end of this funnel, which is usually protected by leaves or rocks.  When an insect, spider, or other small creature crosses the wide end of the funnel, the spider feels the vibration and rushes out to grab the prey.  Funnel weaver and grass spiders are incredibly quick, and can dash from the protected part of their web to the other end at lightning speed.  These spiders are common in many Kentucky habitats, including lawns and on the forest floor.

 
PEST STATUS

Funnel weaver and grass spiders are beneficial predators.  They very rarely leave their webs, so they don't often enter homes.  They will only bite if provoked, and are not considered dangerous.

 
COMMON KENTUCKY FUNNEL WEAVERS

GRASS SPIDERS
GENUS: Agelenopsis
Grass Spiders are very common in Kentucky.  We have several species, but they are all virtually identical in appearance and behavior.  Below are two views of a grass spider in the Agelenopsis genus.

 
Grass Spider
Grass Spider (B. Newton, 2003)
Grass spider, hiding at the end of her funnel
Grass spider, hiding at the end of her funnel (B. Newton, 2003)
 
COLLECTING & PHOTOGRAPHY

These are very fast spiders, so you have to be quick with your jar or camera.  Look for funnel weaver and grass spider webs on summer mornings when the dew has settled on the webs.  Remember: never pick up any spider with bare hands.  All spiders should be preserved in alcohol when collected.

 
FUNNEL WEAVER FACTS

Although it does not live in Kentucky, the notorious Hobo Spider from the Western U.S. is a member of this family of spiders.  It has a bite which may produce effects similar to a brown recluse bite (although the danger of both spiders has been the subject of much debate!).  Members of Agelenidae in Kentucky are not dangerous.  Brown recluse and hobo spiders are not closely related.

 
MYTHS - LEGENDS - FOLKLORE

An old saying about grass spiders: when there is dew on thier webs in the lawn in the morning, it will be a beautiful day.  


Original document: 25 May 2004
Last updated: 26 June 2007

Photos courtesy R. Bessin and B. Newton, University of Kentucky
The Kentucky Critter Files are maintained by Blake Newton, Department of Entomology, University of Kentucky.
Contact: blaken@uky.edu

 

University of Kentucky Entomology/Kentucky Critter Files/Kentucky Spiders/Funnel Weavers