Funnel-web spiders are medium-sized (adults 8-12 mm long), usually brown and gray, with banded legs and spots on their back. They have eight eyes in two rows of four. There are other kinds of spiders that match this description, so this family is best recognized by the shape of the web (see sections below).
All spiders have two body-segments, a cephalothorax in front and an abdomen behind. They have eight legs, all attached to the cephalothorax. On the front they have two small "mini-legs" called palps. These are used to grab prey, and in mating, and are often bigger in male spiders than in females. All spiders have fangs that they use to bite their prey with, and most have venom glands.
This family is found world-wide.
These spiders build their webs close to the ground, in grass or other low vegetation, or in abandoned small mammal burrows.
Spiderlings that hatch out of eggs look like small adults. They have to molt (shed their whole skin) to grow. They build a web and stay with it their whole lives.
Most funnel-web spiders only live one year or less. Only their eggs survive through the winter. In warm climates they might live longer.
The web of these spiders is permanent, they only leave if they are frequently disturbed. They build a bigger web as they grow.
Some African species in this family are social, and have big shared webs with lots of spiders living together. There are even other insects that live in the web and eat their debris.
See More Information on Spiders.
Species in this family build a sheet web that has a funnel-shaped retreat for the spider on one side. The web is not sticky, instead the strands slow down prey that walk into it, as their feet fall through. The spider can walk on top of it, so darts out of his funnel to grab and bite. These spiders eat mainly flying insects that wander into their webs.
Funnel-web spiders hide in their funnel. The funnel is open at both ends, so this spider can run away if attacked.
Large Funnel-web spiders can bite people. Their bites are not generally very harmful, but one species may actually be dangerous to people (it is not found in Michigan).
These spiders eat lots of different kinds of insects, including many that are pests to humans.
No Funnel-web Spiders are believed to need special conservation.
One species in this family sometimes lives in people's houses, and builds a funnel-web in dusty corners.
George Hammond (author), Animal Diversity Web.