At Her Doorstep

Reminder:  You can enlarge any of the photos in this blog by clicking on it.  Click again for a full-screen image.

A few weeks ago I published a photo of a Funnel-web Spider.  That image depicted the spider in profile.  Tonight’s image is a full-face view, one that I was lucky to get yesterday morning while I was wandering around Sabino Canyon.

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I was really lucky to get this image.  Funnel Webs are extremely timid and they invariably retreat back into their lairs when approached. This spider does not have good vision notwithstanding that she comes equipped with 8 (!!!) eyes, but she is exquisitely sensitive to vibration, and approaching human footsteps must feel like an earthquake to her.  So, capturing her out in the open was a coup.

If you look closely at this spider’s face you’ll see those eyes, arranged in two rows.  Amazingly, the top row of eyes are colored a brilliant emerald green whereas the lower row is onyx black.  Go figure.  You’ll also see that she comes equipped with a truly impressive pair of shiny black fangs, which she uses to deliver a paralyzing bite to her victims.  However, despite her formidable appearance this spider is harmless to humans — her bite probably is less potent than a bee sting.

I greatly admire Funnel Webs.  They have an extraordinary lifestyle.  You’ll never find one of these invading your home, this spider needs to be outdoors in order to survive.  She builds an elaborate, sometimes gigantic, web, often extending more than a couple of feet in diameter, of densely packed strands of silk.  The web invariably ends in a funnel that tapers down into the spider’s lair.  The spider spends her day resting either at the entrance to the funnel or down in her lair.  When an insect or other small invertebrate blunders into the web, it triggers vibrations (obviously, much smaller vibrations than those triggered by human footsteps) and the spider follows the vibrations, rushes from her lair, grabs her prey, and then dives back under cover, where she consumes her victim.

This is a very large spider.  An adult Funnel Web, like this one, measures about 1 1/2 – 2 inches across.  She’s not nearly as big as a tarantula but still, she’s quite impressive.  I find her to be altogether beautiful and fascinating.

Photo made with a Canon 5Diii, 180 f3.5L Macro Lens assisted by Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite, ISO 100, M setting, f10 @ 1/160

One response to “At Her Doorstep”

  1. Liesl Kii says :

    Judging by the pictures you take, the world is full of these interesting little-observed creatures. Thanks for all the good commentaries too.

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