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Kids' Inquiry of Diverse Species


What do they look like?

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.

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • female larger

Where do they live?

This family is found world-wide.

What kind of habitat do they need?

These spiders build their webs close to the ground, in grass or other low vegetation, or in abandoned small mammal burrows.

How do they grow?

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.

How long do they live?

Most funnel-web spiders only live one year or less. Only their eggs survive through the winter. In warm climates they might live longer.

How do they behave?

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.

How do they communicate with each other?

See More Information on Spiders.

What do they eat?

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.

  • Primary Diet
  • carnivore
    • eats non-insect arthropods

What eats them and how do they avoid being eaten?

Funnel-web spiders hide in their funnel. The funnel is open at both ends, so this spider can run away if attacked.

  • Known Predators

Do they cause problems?

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).

  • Ways that these animals might be a problem for humans
  • injures humans
    • bites or stings

How do they interact with us?

These spiders eat lots of different kinds of insects, including many that are pests to humans.

Are they endangered?

No Funnel-web Spiders are believed to need special conservation.

  • IUCN Red List [Link]
    Not Evaluated

Some more information...

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.



Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.

World Map


living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.

World Map


living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map


living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map


living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends.


an animal that mainly eats meat


mid-altitude coastal areas with mild, rainy winters and long, dry summers. Dominant plant types are dense, evergreen shrubs.


active at dawn and dusk

  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.

animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


active during the night


found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.


rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Climbing plants are also abundant. There is plenty of moisture and rain, but may be somewhat seasonal.

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


remains in the same area


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.


lives alone


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


Living on the ground.


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

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Hammond, G. . "Agelenidae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 24, 2014 at

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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