Funnelweb, cobweb or grass spiders
Family Agelenidae


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Eratigena atrica
Eratigena atrica. This male house spider frightens in autumn many North Europeans when running through their houses 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 / Allagelena


Agelena labyrinthica male

These spiders live in webs that are woven horizontally between grasses, brushes and tree roots.
Their thorax is flat and they have long and hairy legs. The woven web looks like a wide spread funnel.
The spider hides in a secondary tube-like web that is adjacent to the catching web.
Agelena labyrinthica her webs can be up to 50 cm diameter while those of
The genus Allegelena contains one species; Allagelena gracilens

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
Allagelena (Agelena) gracilens Agelena gracilens
Allagelena gracilens resembles A. labyrinthica but is smaller. Their size is between 5 and 10 mm.
Allagelena (Agelena) gracilens with hardly any markings left in her abdomen
Allagelena (Agelena) gracilens
Agelena similis similar to A. labyrinthica but has a red-brown stripe on his belly.
Allagelena (Agelena) gracilens Allagelena (Agelena) gracilens
Allagelena (Agelena) gracilens Allagelena (Agelena) gracilens

Genus Eratigena and 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.
Some members of this family where moved in 2005 from Tegenaria to Eratigena.

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

Eratigena ( Tegenaria) atrica
Close-up of Eratigena 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
Eratigena 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.

Tegenaria agrestris
Youngsters just after hatching and after changing their skin. Note the light empty skins. Eratigena agrestris
Eratigena agrestris is also know in the USA as Hobo 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.
Eratigena atrica
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

Eratigena atrica Eratigena atrica

Eratigena atrica (was Tegenaria duellica (gigantea) ©Lionel Dabat

Eratigena atrica (was Tegenaria duellica) by Mick Thomson
Eratigena atrica Eratigena atrica
Eratigena atrica Eratigena atrica
Tegenaria ? male Tegenaria ? male

Genus Histopona

In our region only one species occur. Histopona torpida is between 5 and 7 mm long.
They live on the ground between stone and wood in the neighbourhood of forests.

Histopona torpida Histopona torpida
Histopona torpida (NP Hoge Veluwe) Histopona torpida

Genus Malthonica

Malthonica ferruginea
Malthonica ferruginea
Malthonica ferruginea
Malthonica ferruginea

Tegenaria ferruginea or charcoal spider is a common spider. The spider has brown spots on its abdomen.
Females can be up to14 mm while males measures up to 11 mm.
They can be found in forests and in buildings and are active from May to October.

Malthonica ferruginea

Malthonica ferruginea

Malthonica ferruginea
Malthonica ferruginea
Malthonica ferruginea with egg-sac
Malthonicasilvestris
Malthonica ferruginea with egg-sac (Hans Jonkman)

Malthonica silvestris is a rare spider found in caves
and in the edges of forests. They are 5 - 9 mm large


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
Web silk released from its spinnerets Textrix denticulata
Web silk released from its spinnerets Detail of the male palp
Textrix denticulata Textrix denticulata
Textrix denticulata detail of the female Textrix denticulata
   
Textrix denticulata
Textrix denticulata in her web
Textrix denticulata
Textrix denticulata male

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Ed Nieuwenhuys, 19 december 2019
12 February 2012, 29 December 2011, 4 August 2011, December 24, 2008,26 october 2005, 15 December 1996