Male Funnel Weaver

2013 August 17

Sandy found this spider in the bathtub on August 19, 2012. It is clearly a funnel weaver, in the family Agelenidae, based on the projecting spinnerettes clearly visible at the tip of its abdomen, and the eye pattern.

Funnel Weavers are named for their habit of weaving sheetlike webs that form into a funnel-shape feeding into a silk tunnel[1]. The spider hangs out in the tunnel, and when something lands on the web, they dash out and grab it.

This one, though, is wandering away from his web because he’s a mature male, and he’s out looking for the ladies. You can tell he’s a male from his very large pedipalps, which is where he carries his sperm.

The exact configuration of the male pedipalps is usually a key feature for identifying spiders. Since this is not too bad of a picture of his pedipalps, I’ll have to take a crack at it. It sure looks like one of the Grass Spiders in the genus Agelenopsis. They all seem to have that similar projection corkscrewing around on the back of their pedipalps. An example of a funnel weaver with a sperm packet in his pedipalp is shown here. Unfortunately, I can’t really narrow it down much more than that. The six species in this genus that have pictures on BugGuide all look pretty similar, and most of them look like they include Michigan in their range. And there are another eight species in the genus that they don’t have pictures of yet – They probably all look similar, too.

[1] Disclaimer: This article is about North American funnel weavers, which are harmless spiders. They should not be confused with the Australian funnel-web spiders, which are dangerously venomous but (a) are almost completely unrelated (the Australian funnel-webs are more closely related to tarantulas), and (b) only found in Australia. It’s just that, through the miracle of convergent evolution, both kinds of spiders independently developed the same style of web. Because it works.

One Response leave one →
  1. Carole permalink
    August 17, 2013

    Interesting, bet he has a story to tell about how he ended up in the house, in the bathtub.

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