APPEARANCE & IDENTIFICATION
Funnel web spider bodies are about ½ to ¾-inch long, not including the span of their eight legs. They are brownish or grayish and have two dark stripes on the body segment that contains the head. Their abdomen has a long pair of spinnerets that are used to spin webs. Funnel web spiders are harmless but are often mistaken for the smaller and much slower brown recluse spider.
Funnel web spiders construct a flat, horizontal web over the ground with a funnel at one end in which the spider rests, hides from potential predators, or uses as an escape route. While most webs are constructed on the ground, these spiders may also build their webs on vegetation or inside structures. The webs function to trap prey, and it is thought that insects mistake the flat web for a good landing zone after flight.
In the fall months, funnel web spiders often enter buildings to seek out warmer conditions. Most funnel web spiders that do not find warm conditions die after the first frost. Winter is passed in the egg stage.
Funnel web spiders eat insects and other spiders that become entrapped in their web. They are also known to cannibalize other funnel web spiders.
The funnel web spider’s preferred habitat is tall grass, around rock piles, firewood, shrubs, and dense vegetation. Inside structures, they inhabit corners of sheds, barns, and cellars, or other places where prey is found also are preferred. Other sites are burrows that were abandoned by small animals, plus cracks and gaps in bricks near a light source that attracts insects at night.
REPRODUCTION & LIFECYCLE
A mated female deposits a lightly colored egg sac in the late summer or early fall. As mentioned above, the overwinter stage for this spider is the egg stage. When males become sexually mature, they spend most of their life searching for a mate. The females do not move much from their web; instead, they linger on the web waiting for a male to come by and find them.
SIGNS OF THEIR PRESENCE
Evidence of funnel web spiders include their distinct webs, their appearance, and the occurrence of prey upon which they feed.
- Preventing and controlling prey is the best way to help prevent or minimize funnel web spiders.
- Keeping entry points that lead to the inside well sealed helps excludes spider access.
- Removing ground litter or other items that creates harborage is helpful.
- Using a vacuum, broom, or web removal device is helpful.
- Using sticky boards placed around entry points to help capture spiders also works well.
HOW TO CONTROL
Control of funnel web spiders usually is not required unless many spiders move inside the home. When that occurs, use mechanical means to help control them. If that method is not acceptable, a quick burst of a direct contact aerosol or a liquid or dust insecticide applied to cracks, crevices, and gaps will do the job. However, the most effective and benign way to deal with these spiders is to swat them with a newspaper, get them with a shoe, or use the preventive measures mentioned above. Always carefully read and follow the use directions anytime an insecticide product is used.