Funnelweb, cobweb or grass spiders

Family Agelenidae Home <------

Tegenaria atrica. This male house spider frightens in autumn many North Europeans when running through the house looking for a female .

There are 28 species known in northern Europe, belonging to eight genera. Most spiders of this family have elongated spinners and an oval shaped abdomen.
The common name of these spiders is 'funnel weavers', although they are also called 'cobweb' or 'grass' spiders.
These spiders weave a tubular funnel shaped web with a retreat at one end of the silken sheet. The sheet is dry and not sticky but it structure makes it difficult for insects to escape rapidly. Prey that lands on the sheet is caught rapidly and consumed inside the retreat. In summer these large webs cab b found between grasses but also in shrub. Often there is a conglomeration of webs.
In autumn lens-shaped egg sacs are made in the funnel and the spider soon dies thereafter. The male often stays with the female in this last period.
The web material has been used extensively by European peasants to stop bleeding. When several sheets are applied to a wound they form a bandage.
But the material is also durable. The Austrian family Burgman painted on these superimposed layers of sheet webs in the 19th century. The earliest cobweb painting dates from 1734, a Madonna and child, painted by Johann Georg Prunner. This web painting technique is still used today.


Genus Agelena


Agelena labyrinthica male

There are thirty European species. They live in webs that are woven horizontally between grasses, brushes and tree roots.
The woven web looks like a wide spread funnel. Their thorax is flat and they have long and hairy legs.

The spider hides in a secondary tube-like web that is adjacent to the catching web.

Agelena labyrinthica female and male

The spider lives in low vegetation and shrubs. The female guards her eggs until her death.

Agelena labyrinthica female Agelena labyrinthica male
Agelena gracilens Agelena gracilens
Agelena gracilens Agelena gracilens
Agelena similis similar to A. labyrinthica but has a red-brown stripe on his belly.
Agelena gracilens Agelena gracilens
Agelena gracilens Agelena gracilens
Agelena sp. Agelena sp.

Genus Tegenaria

These spiders die a lot in clothes, brooms and vacuum cleaners. Eleven species are known in NW-Europe. Most species make sheet webs with a tubular retreat at one side. Females of the species living in houses are known to live for several years. The spider spends most of its times on its web but in the late summer and the autumn the male starts looking for a female. The long legged male start wandering through the house and sometimes frightens us. Males live with their mates for several weeks. The female remains with their egg sac until the spiderlings emerges and walk away.


Tegenaria atrica is between 6 and 10 mm large. Its markings are variable

Tegenaria atrica
Close-up of Tegenaria atrica our house spider  

Tegenaria atrica

The spiders originally lived in and around caves. They can run very fast on their long legs. Their catch flies, ants and other insects. The web has a tube like living room and has in the front the shape of an upside down funnel where there are a lot of stumbling threads.
Below
Tegenaria atrica male. This guy looks very mean. I caught him in the cellars of our laboratory and he could hardly fit in a jam jar. He died of heart failure before I could photograph him. Observe the wasp in the background to get an idea how big he was.


Youngsters just after hatching and after changing their skin. Note the light empty skins.

Tegenaria agrestris
Tegenaria agrestris is also know in the USA as Hobo spider. She is also called Tegenaria aggressive or ' agressive house spider'. This spider was brought by the Pelgrim fathers to the USA. It was first discovered in 1930 and since the 1960s has become one of the commonest house spiders in the Pacific North West because it has almost no natural predator.
Tegenaria gigantea
seems to be one of its predators.
It was is thought that a bite of this American spider would cause necrosis, a severe tissue damage. There are no records of this nasty behaviour of the European species.
Recent studies of Bennet and Vetter shows that all these believes are wrong. Often the spider is even blamed for necrosis outside the region where it lives (The four North-Western states of the USA and British Columbia in Canada). The message is: The hobo spider does not cause necrosis.

Tegenaria_parietina

Tegenaria_parietina

Tegenaria_parietina

Tegenaria parietina male

Tegenaria parietina male

Tegenaria duellica (gigantea) ©Lionel Dabat

Tegenaria duellica by Mick Thomson
Tegenaria atrica Tegenaria atrica
Tegenaria atrica Tegenaria atrica
Tegenaria ferruginea Tegenaria ferruginea
Tegenaria ferruginea Tegenaria ferruginea
Tegenaria ferruginea

Tegenaria silvestris

Tegenaria ferruginea

Tegenaria silvestris

Tegenaria ? male Tegenaria ? male

Genus Textrix

This beautiful spider is 6 - 8 mm long. The spider is very fast.
It looks like a wolf spider but can be recognized by the large spinnerets at the back of the abdomen.

Textrix denticulata
Textrix denticulata Textrix denticulata
Textrix denticulata
Textrix denticulata in her web
Textrix denticulata
Textrix denticulata male

Ed Nieuwenhuys, 12 February 2012,
29 December 2011, 4 August 2011, December 24, 2008, 26 october 2005