Funnel-Web Spider

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The other day I featured an image of a Wolf Spider, a large, primarily nocturnal spider that is quite common in southern Arizona.  Today, I’m featuring another spider, one that superficially resembles a Wolf Spider, but that is, in fact, quite different.  Today’s spider is a Funnel-web Spider.

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The similarity between Wolf Spiders and Funnel-web Spiders lies in the fact that both spiders are fur covered.  So, at first glance, they resemble each other.  But, that’s where the similarity ends.  As I described the other day, Wolf Spiders are ambushers.  They live in underground burrows from which they emerge at night to lie in wait for unsuspecting invertebrates to blunder within reach.  By contrast, Funnel-web Spiders are web spinners.  Indeed, they spin some of the biggest and most elaborate webs spun by any spider.  It’s typical for one of these spiders to spin a huge web, often a couple of feet across, densely packed with silken strands.  At one end, the spider narrows the web into a tube, the “funnel” and connects that to its lair, typically a chamber under debris or vegetation.  Then, the spider sits in the funnel and waits for an insect to get caught in the web.

A Funnel-web Spider is about one-half the size of a Wolf Spider, meaning that it measures about an inch in length. Like all spiders it has venomous fangs. It can deliver a painful bite if molested.  The bite is not dangerous to humans, however.  Moreover, the possibility of one being bitten by one of these spiders is miniscule.  Funnel-web Spiders are extremely  timid.  Typically, one will run and hide in its lair when approached.  I was very surprised yesterday when this one remained in its funnel long enough for me to photograph it.

These spiders are quite common this time of year.  They prefer relatively humid conditions, although one often sees their webs out in the open desert, particularly on or adjacent to packrat burrows.  Their webs are everywhere in the riparian area at Sabino Canyon, where I found this individual.  There, it’s not unusual to see three or four Funnel-web Spider webs sitting side by side.

Image made with a Canon 5DS-R, 180 mm f3.5L Macro Lens assisted by Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite, M setting, ISO 160, f13 @ 1/160.

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