Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

The formidable ferocity of a funnel fiend found

with 61 comments

Funnel Web Spider 0086A

When I wander about in nature I often see funnel webs close to the ground, but only occasionally is the web builder in evidence. July 29th on a sumpy piece of the Blackland Prairie in northeast Austin was one of those times.

Funnel weavers are in the Agelenidae, but I can’t tell you what the genus of this spider is (perhaps Agelenopsis).

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 12, 2014 at 5:37 AM

61 Responses

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  1. Awesome shot! It looks like he has his fists out ready for a fight. Tee Hee :).

    photosfromtheloonybin

    October 12, 2014 at 5:57 AM

  2. Wauw, great photo!

    Mark Mendonck

    October 12, 2014 at 7:05 AM

  3. Eek….is all I have to say.

    Gallivanta

    October 12, 2014 at 7:27 AM

  4. wow! I have tried capturing the web with my Sony xperia, leave alone catching it in the act of making the web and never succeeded. :/

    richa

    October 12, 2014 at 7:36 AM

  5. It gives me a feel of a boxer ready to fight ! 😉

    ady

    October 12, 2014 at 7:48 AM

  6. Great shot, Steve. This creature is beautifully marked, probably something one wouldn’t notice if it was running towards you.

    composerinthegarden

    October 12, 2014 at 10:51 AM

  7. Fierce fiend fielding fliers!

    melissabluefineart

    October 12, 2014 at 11:24 AM

    • Speaking of fliers, at one point the spider went back down into the funnel where I couldn’t see it anymore, so I tapped the web and it came “flying” back out.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 12, 2014 at 3:00 PM

  8. Outstanding capture…and eek! for me too. 🙂

    Katrina W

    October 12, 2014 at 11:32 AM

  9. You were brave! Those are some spiky clubs.

    Emily Scott

    October 12, 2014 at 12:09 PM

    • I don’t think you can credit my bravery, Emily. This closeup, taken with a macro lens, exaggerates the spider’s size and makes it seem scarier than it was in person.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 12, 2014 at 3:54 PM

  10. The detail is absolutely awesome…Love the photo.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    October 12, 2014 at 1:20 PM

    • As always in these closeups, I give credit to my 100mm macro lens, in this case assisted by a 12mm extension tube so I could get even a bit nearer.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 12, 2014 at 3:56 PM

  11. This is truly an amazing picture!

    lembrechtsjonas

    October 12, 2014 at 1:45 PM

  12. Stunning shot but I hope you weren’t too close!!

    • There’s always my camera body and the long cylinder of the macro lens between my subject and me, so even if this had been a venomous spider, which I don’t believe it was, I had a lot of protection.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 12, 2014 at 3:58 PM

      • I always think of funnel webs as being quite dangerous! Maybe that’s because I have Aussie relatives and they have a very venomous funnel!

        • Australia’s a different story all right. I’ve heard that it has a disproportionate number of venomous snakes and spiders.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 12, 2014 at 4:25 PM

          • Yeah, it’s a haven for wacky wildlife! I was born there 😉

            • Wacky’s okay with me, it’s venomous I’m eager to avoid.

              Steve Schwartzman

              October 12, 2014 at 4:29 PM

              • The UK has very few venomous species and those that are, are not particularly potent! A big scare went around about a European spider that was spreading into the UK and taking hold. It’s called the False Widow and the media made a huge fuss about it. It’s really not that dangerous and it’s a very timid species so bites are rare anyway! The way the press went on about it you would have thought that the red back or black widow had arrived on our shores. It certainly shows that the climate is changing a lot here though!

                • The news media do love to get hold of something and exploit it for all it’s worth—only to drop it when the next thing comes along that can be whipped up into a sensation.

                  We have real black widow spiders in Texas but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one. The same goes for the other venomous spider here, the brown recluse.

                  https://www.dshs.state.tx.us/idcu/health/zoonosis/animal/bites/information/venom/spider/

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  October 12, 2014 at 5:16 PM

                • The media is totally irresponsible as far as I’m concerned! They jump on various stories before they have any facts at all and yes, you’re absolutely right, they do drop stories just like that.

                  I think most venomous snakes and spiders are actually pretty timid where humans are concerned so they’re not easily spotted. Just the name brown “recluse” rather leads me to believe that they are very reclusive!

                • From Wikipedia: “As suggested by its specific epithet reclusa (recluse), the brown recluse spider is rarely aggressive, and bites from the species are uncommon. In 2001, more than 2,000 brown recluse spiders were removed from a heavily infested home in Kansas, yet the four residents who had lived there for years were never harmed by the spiders, despite many encounters with them. The spider usually bites only when pressed against the skin, such as when tangled within clothes, towels, bedding, inside work gloves, etc. Many human victims report having been bitten after putting on clothes that had not been worn recently, or had been left for many days undisturbed on the floor….”

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  October 20, 2014 at 1:58 PM

                • Ha ha!!! I’m well known for commenting on TV programs, especially the snooker, before the actual commentators get there, or predicting the next thing to occur in a film or TV drama but that’s the first time I’ve ever accurately predicted an encyclopaedia 😉

  13. Steven, as always, an amazing photograph. I am wondering how on Earth did you manage to capture him? Whenever I approach (even trying to sneak up) the funnel, he will instantly disappear!

    brendaclemj11

    October 12, 2014 at 3:13 PM

    • In my experience many spiders will hold their ground, at least initially. At one point I spooked this spider and it retreated so far into the funnel that I couldn’t see it anymore, but after a short while I tapped the web to make the spider think some prey was there and it quickly came back out. Later the spider retreated a second time and I tried my strategy again to lure it back, but to no avail. By then I’d already gotten this good picture so I didn’t mind.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 12, 2014 at 4:04 PM

  14. Love the alliteration!

    Bob Beyer

    October 12, 2014 at 7:35 PM

  15. so scary

    sedge808

    October 12, 2014 at 9:19 PM

  16. So, spiders have eight legs, and no antennae. I can count eight legs, but that leaves open the question: what are those club-like things in front? I suppose they could be some sort of adaptation for holding prey and injecting venom, but to be truthful — that critter looks like it’s wearing mittens, and there’s just nothing very frightening about something that wears mittens.

    I’d even go with the Fascinating Fuzziness of a Funnel Friend.

    shoreacres

    October 12, 2014 at 9:52 PM

    • Those appendages (which look club-like in this species) are pedipalps. At

      http://www.uky.edu/Ag/CritterFiles/casefile/spiders/anatomy/spideranatomy.htm

      I found this explanation:

      “Like the chelicerae, a spider’s pedipalps are part of its mouth, and are located just between the chelicerae and first pair of legs on the cephalothorax. Pedipalps are jointed, and look somewhat like small legs. They are not used like legs, though. Instead, they are more like antennae: pedipalps help the spider sense objects that it encounters. Some spiders also use their pedipalps to shape their webs and to aid in prey capture and feeding.

      “Pedipalps are used by male spiders to transfer sperm to female spiders. In fact, you can usually distinguish a male spider from a female because of the male’s enlarged pedipalps.”

      That last sentence makes it seem that that spider in this picture is a male.

      As for mittens, I doubt the spider’s prey would find the pedipalps as comforting as your associations lead you to find them. A female spider, though, might take much comfort in them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 12, 2014 at 10:20 PM

  17. That’s an awesome spider!

    montucky

    October 12, 2014 at 10:50 PM

  18. Belle capture et jolis détails.

    Pierre

    October 13, 2014 at 6:17 AM

  19. Great shot! You are really in his face there, or maybe I should say, he’s really in your face. I did that with a praying mantid once with my video camera and he jumped me — on the face. That little guy threw me off balance and I fell backwards in response (or at least that’s what I’m sticking to).

    “Boxing gloves” seems appropriate for those gorgeous pedipalps, but it’s more fitting to call them “love gloves.” (I see up above you already know that.)

    PS — I’ve not since been able to watch Spiderman shooting web from his wrists without thinking, “Ew.”

    Shannon

    October 13, 2014 at 4:01 PM

    • I’ll admit this is one of my best spider pictures ever.

      “Love gloves”: now that’s a novel phrase. Maybe you should trademark it. In light of your comment about pedipalps, I can see why Spiderman evoked an “ew” from you. And I can see that a mantid jumping onto your face would be off-putting, literally and figuratively. I’d have fallen back too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 13, 2014 at 7:16 PM

  20. Fabulous.

    kathryningrid

    October 13, 2014 at 5:14 PM

  21. Such a gorgeous image… With this beautiful angle, I can’t help but think of “The Hobbit.” 🙂

    FeyGirl

    October 14, 2014 at 8:46 AM

    • That’s a unique association. It reminds me that decades ago I used to eat veggie burgers at The Hobbit House in Houston. Somehow, though, I don’t think the people who ran the restaurant would’ve been fond of spiders there.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 14, 2014 at 12:59 PM

  22. Love the alliteration in the title (oh, not to mention the fabulous spidergraph)!

    Susan Scheid

    October 25, 2014 at 9:10 PM

  23. […] sounds ominous. I have no idea what the searcher was after, but one of my posts offered up a spider in a funnel web, which is death for insects that come too […]

  24. […] Peer carefully into the web’s dark funnel and you can make out the spider lurking in there. If you want a better look at a funnel web spider, you’re welcome to check out one from 2012 and an even closer one from last October. […]

  25. This is one of my favourite shots from your blog, Steve! I do love macro shots of spiders and this has to be one of the best I’ve seen.

    Jane

    May 20, 2015 at 6:27 AM

    • I have to agree that this is a good spider picture, Jane, and I was fortunate to get it. I think even some people who don’t like spiders were impressed.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 20, 2015 at 7:16 AM


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