The spider family Agelenidae (funnel weavers) has a worldwide distribution (although mainly Holarctic, Neotropical, and Australian) and as of 2013 included 1,156 described species (Platnick 2013), including around 100 in North America north of Mexico. In the Nearctic portion of the Holarctic, only Agelenopsis and one species of Tegenaria (T. domestica) are very widespread (Bennett and Ubick 2005). Although some spiders in the genera Coras (Muma 1946; Wang 2002) and Wadotes (Muma 1947; Bennett 1987; Wang 2002) have sometimes been placed in the family Amaurobiidae rather than Agelenidae, based on their molecular phylogenetic analyses Miller et al. (2010) concluded that these and a number of other genera that had been placed in Amaurobiidae are clearly agelenids.
Agelenids are known as funnel weavers because they construct large, relatively flat sheets of non-sticky silk connected to a funnel-shaped tube. They typically spend much of their time in this tube or waiting at its entrance. When the web is disturbed, the spider may escape out a rear opening. Most agelenids are active at night, but they may rush out onto the sheet to capture prey even in daylight.
The number and arrangement of a spider's eyes are often helpful in determining to which family it belongs. Agelenids (like spiders in many other families) have eight eyes and in most genera these are arranged in two strongly procurved transverse rows, i.e., two rows of four, each of which has the lateral eyes set farther forward than the median eyes (these rows are straight or only slightly procurved in Tegenaria). Many agelenids have light brown bodies with paired darker longitudinal stripes on the cephalothorax (and sometimes on the abdomen as well). Many (although not all) agelenids have long and conspicuous posterior spinnerets that extend well beyond the tip of the abdomen. Their legs are relatively long and they are able to run very quickly. They rely on their speed, rather than on sticky silk, to capture prey that walk or hop or land on the web.
Some large-bodied Tegenaria species can be found living in buildings. A number of the Tegenaria species found in North America north of Mexico have been introduced from Eurasia. A notable example is the Hobo Spider (Tegenaria agrestis). which was introduced to the Pacific Northwest and has been expanding its range eastward. Although this species has developed a reputation as dangerous to humans, there seems to be little evidence supporting this (Binford 2001; Vetter and Isbister 2004, 2008; Gaver-Wainwright et al. 2011). There are a handful of records of bites by other agelenids that have produced significant and alarming symptoms in humans (Vetter 2012), but without any apparent long-term effects.
Agelenopsis aperta has been the focus of diverse studies of social behavior by Susan Riechert and colleagues (e.g., Riechert 1993 and references therein). Ayoub et al. (2005) analyzed species boundaries and patterns of speciation in Agelenopsis.
Bennett and Ubick (2005) and Bradley (2013) are useful resources for identifying agelenids in North America and Bolzern et al. (2013) is useful for Europe.
(Bennett and Ubick 2005; Bradley 2013)
- Ayoub, N.A., S.E. Riechert, and R.L. Small. 2005. Speciation history of the North American funnel web spiders, Agelenopsis (Araneae: Agelenidae): Phylogenetic inferences at the population–species interface. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 36: 42-57.
- Bennett, R.G. 1987. Systematics and Natural History of Wadotes (Araneae, Agelenidae). Journal of Arachnology 15(1): 91-128.
- Bennett, R.G. and D. Ubick. 2005. Agelenidae. Pp. 56-59 in D. Ubick, P. Paquin, P.E. Cushing, and V. Roth (eds.) Spiders of North America: an Identification Manual. American Arachnological Society.
- Binford, G.J. 2001. An analysis of geographic and intersexual chemical variation in venoms of the spider Tegenaria agrestis (Agelenidae). Toxicon 39: 955-968.
- Bolzerni, A., D. Burckhardt, and A. Hänggi. 2013. Phylogeny and taxonomy of European funnel-web spiders of the Tegenaria-Malthonica complex (Araneae: Agelenidae) based upon morphological and molecular data. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 168: 723-848.
- Bradley, R.A. 2013. Common Spiders of North America. University of California Press, Berkeley.
- Gaver-Wainwright, M.M., R.S. Zack, M.J. Foradori, and L.C. Lavine. 2011. Misdiagnosis of Spider Bites: Bacterial Associates, Mechanical Pathogen Transfer, and Hemolytic Potential of Venom from the Hobo Spider, Tegenaria agrestis (Araneae: Agelenidae). Journal of Medical Entomology 48(2): 382-388.
- Miller, J.A., A. Carmichael, M.J. Ramirez, et al. 2010. Phylogeny of entelegyne spiders: Affinities of the family Penestomidae (NEW RANK), generic phylogeny of Eresidae, and asymmetric rates of change in spinning organ evolution (Araneae, Araneoidea, Entelegynae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 55 (3): 786-804.
- Muma, M.H. 1946. North American Agelenidae of the genus Coras Simon. American Museum Novitates No. 1329: 1-20.
- Muma, M.H. 1947. North American Agelenidae of the genus Wadotes Chamberlin. American Museum Novitates, No. 1334: 1-12.
- Platnick, N. I. 2013. The world spider catalog, version 14.0. American Museum of Natural History, online at http://research.amnh.org/entomology/spiders/catalog/index.html.
- Riechert, S.E. 1993. The evolution of behavioral phenotypes--lessons learned from divergent spider populations. Advances in the Study of Behavior 22: 103-134.
- Vetter, R.S. 2012. Envenomation by spiders of the genus Hololena (Araneae: Agelenidae). Toxicon 60: 312-314.
- Vetter, R.S. and G.K. Isbister. 2004. Do hobo spider bites cause dermonecrotic injuries? Annals of Emergency Medicine 44: 605-607.
- Vetter, R.S. and G.K. Isbister. 2008. Medical Aspects of Spider Bites. Annual Review of Entomology 53: 409-29.
- Wang, X.-P. 2002. A generic-level revision of the spider subfamily Coelotinae (Araneae, Amaurobiidae). Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, Number 269:1-150.
- Deltshev, Christo, Komnenov, Marjan, Blagoev, Gergin, Georgiev, Teodor, Lazarov, Stoyan, Stojkoska, Emilija, Naumova, Maria (2013): Faunistic diversity of spiders (Araneae) in Galichitsa mountain (FYR Macedonia). Biodiversity Data Journal 1, 977: 977-977, URL:http://dx.doi.org/10.3897/BDJ.1.e977
Agelenidae C. L. Koch, 1837
- Candek, Klemen, Gregoric, Matjaz, Kostanjsek, Rok, Frick, Holger, Kropf, Christian, Kuntner, Matjaz, Miller, Jeremy A., Hoeksema, Bert W. (2013): Targeting a portion of central European spider diversity for permanent preservation. Biodiversity Data Journal 1, 980: 980-980, URL:http://dx.doi.org/10.3897/BDJ.1.e980
This family is found world-wide.
Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); palearctic (Native ); oriental (Native ); ethiopian (Native ); neotropical (Native ); australian (Native )
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.
Other Physical Features: bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: female larger
These spiders build their webs close to the ground, in grass or other low vegetation, or in abandoned small mammal burrows.
Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial
Terrestrial Biomes: chaparral ; forest ; rainforest ; scrub forest
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 Insecta 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.
- see more information on Araneae
Life History and Behavior
Communication and Perception
See More Information on Spiders.
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.
Female Funnel-web spiders hide their eggs under bark or inside dead leaves. They often produce several egg sacs with dozens or hundreds of eggs, and cover them all with webbing for protection.
Breeding season: Female funnel-web spiders lay eggs in late summer and fall.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; sexual ; oviparous
Female Funnel-webs sometimes stay with their eggs until they die in the winter.
Parental Investment: female parental care
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage
Specimen Records: 1096
Specimens with Sequences: 906
Specimens with Barcodes: 802
Species With Barcodes: 89
Public Records: 318
Public Species: 67
Public BINs: 53
No Funnel-web Spiders are believed to need special conservation.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
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).
Negative Impacts: injures humans (bites or stings)
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
These spiders eat lots of different kinds of insects, including many that are pests to humans.
The Agelenidae are a large family of spiders in the suborder Araneomorphae. Well-known examples include the common "grass spiders" of the genus Agelenopsis. Nearly all Agelenidae are harmless to humans, but the bite of the "hobo spider" (Tegenaria agrestis) may be medically significant and there is evidence that it might cause necrotic lesions. The matter however remains subject to debate. The most widely accepted common name for members of the family is "Funnel weaver".
The smallest species of the Agelenidae are about 4 mm in bodily length, excluding leg span. Fairly large species are about 20 mm in length. Some exceptionally large species, for example Tegenaria duellica and Tegenaria atrica, may reach 5 cm to 10 cm in total leg span.
Agelenidae have eight eyes in two horizontal rows of four. The cephalothorax narrows somewhat towards the front where the eyes are. The abdomen is more or less oval, usually patterned with two rows of lines and spots. Some species have longitudinal lines on the dorsal surface of the cephalothorax whereas other species do not; for example, the hobo spider does not, which assists in informally distinguishing it from similar-looking species.
Most of the Agelenidae are very fast runners, especially on their webs. With speeds clocked at 1.73 ft/s (0.53 m/s), the Giant house spider held the Guinness Book of World Records title for top spider speed until 1987. A recent literature review found peer-reviewed accounts of several agelenid species achieving speeds in this range, though some other taxa have achieved higher speeds.
Agelenids build a flat sheet of non-sticky web with a funnel-shaped retreat to one side or occasionally in the middle, depending on the situation and species. Accordingly "funnel weaver" is the most widely accepted common name for members of the family, but they should not be confused with the so-called "funnel-web tarantulas" or "funnel-web spiders" of the families Hexathelidae and Dipluridae, both of which are in the suborder Mygalomorphae. The Hexathelidae in particular include the notorious Sydney funnel-web spider.
The typical hunting mode for most sheet-building Agelenidae is similar to that of most other families of spiders that build sheet web in the open, typically on grass or in scrubland as opposed to under bark, rocks and the like. They await the arrival of prey such as grasshoppers that fall onto the horizontal web. Although the web is not sticky, it is full of entangling filaments that the spider continually lays down when passing over. The filaments catch in the least projections on a prey insect's body or limbs. The web also is springy and, whether perching on the sheet or awaiting prey in its retreat, the spider reacts immediately to vibrations, whether from a courting male, the threatening struggles of dangerous invaders, or the weaker struggles of potential meals. They attack promising prey by rushing out at high speed and dealing a paralysing venomous bite. Once the prey has been disabled the spider generally drags it back into the retreat and begins to feed. This method of attack is consistent with the high speeds at which Agelenidae run. Other sheet web hunters such as some Pisauridae also are very fast runners.
The type genus, Agelena, includes some parasocial spiders that live in complex communal webs in Africa. The best known of these is probably Agelena consociata. Social behaviour in these spiders comprises communal web-building, cooperative prey capture and communal rearing of young. There is however no trophallaxis, nor any true eusociality such as occurs in the social Hymenoptera (ants, bees and wasps); for example the spiders have no castes such as sterile workers or soldiers and all females are reproductive.
Only one species of Agelenid has become prominent as a putative cause of a significant frequency of necrotic arachnidism; this is the "hobo spider", Tegenaria agrestis. This perception arose when the species accidentally got introduced to the United States in the mid-twentieth century and propagated rapidly in several regions. It is a fairly large, rapidly moving spider and accordingly alarming to many people. 
Genera in the family Agelenidae
- Acutipetala Dankittipakul & Zhang, 2008 — Thailand
- Agelena Walckenaer, 1805 — Palearctic, Africa
- Agelenella Lehtinen, 1967 — Yemen, Socotra
- Agelenopsis Giebel, 1869 — North America
- Ageleradix Xu & Li, 2007 — China
- Agelescape Levy, 1996 — Mediterranean
- Ahua Forster & Wilton, 1973 — New Zealand
- Allagelena Zhang, Zhu & Song, 2006 — Eurasia
- Alloclubionoides Paik, 1992 — Eurasia
- Aterigena Bolzern, Hänggi & Burckhardt, 2010 — China, Mediterranean
- Azerithonica Guseinov, Marusik & Koponen, 2005 — Azerbaijan
- Barronopsis Chamberlin & Ivie, 1941 — Cuba, USA, Bahamas
- Benoitia Lehtinen, 1967 — China, Africa, Cyprus, Israel, Yemen
- Bifidocoelotes Wang, 2002 — Taiwan, Hong Kong
- Calilena Chamberlin & Ivie, 1941 — USA, Mexico
- Coelotes Blackwall, 1841 — Palearctic
- Coras Simon, 1898 — North America
- Draconarius Ovtchinnikov, 1999 — Asia
- Femoracoelotes Wang, 2002 — Taiwan
- Hadites Keyserling, 1862 — Croatia
- Himalcoelotes Wang, 2002 — Bhutan, Nepal, China
- Histopona Thorell, 1869 — Europe
- Hololena Chamberlin & Gertsch, 1929 — North America
- Huangyuania Song & Li, 1990 — China
- Huka Forster & Wilton, 1973 — New Zealand
- Hypocoelotes Nishikawa, 2009 — Japan
- Inermocoelotes Ovtchinnikov, 1999 — Europe
- Iwogumoa Kishida, 1955 — Asia
- Kidugua Lehtinen, 1967 — Congo
- Leptocoelotes Wang, 2002 — Taiwan, China
- Lineacoelotes Xu, Li & Wang, 2008 — China
- Longicoelotes Wang, 2002 — China, Ryukyu Is.
- Lycosoides Lucas, 1846 — Mediterranean, Azerbaijan
- Mahura Forster & Wilton, 1973 — New Zealand
- Maimuna Lehtinen, 1967 — Eastern Mediterranean
- Malthonica Simon, 1898 — Mediterranean, Europe to Central Asia, USA to Chile, New Zealand
- Melpomene O. P-Cambridge, 1898 — USA to Panama
- Mistaria Lehtinen, 1967 — Central & East Africa, Yemen
- Neoramia Forster & Wilton, 1973 — New Zealand
- Neorepukia Forster & Wilton, 1973 — New Zealand
- Neotegenaria Roth, 1967 — Guyana
- Neowadotes Alayón, 1995 — Hispaniola
- Notiocoelotes Wang, Xu & Li, 2008 — Asia
- Novalena Chamberlin & Ivie, 1942 — USA to El Salvador
- Olorunia Lehtinen, 1967 — Congo
- Oramia Forster, 1964 — New Zealand
- Oramiella Forster & Wilton, 1973 — New Zealand
- Orepukia Forster & Wilton, 1973 — New Zealand
- Orumcekia Koçak & Kemal, 2008 — Asia
- Paramyra Forster & Wilton, 1973 — New Zealand
- Pireneitega Kishida, 1955 — Palearctic
- Platocoelotes Wang, 2002 — China, Japan
- Porotaka Forster & Wilton, 1973 — New Zealand
- Pseudotegenaria Caporiacco, 1934 — Balkans, Libya
- Robusticoelotes Wang, 2002 — China
- Rualena Chamberlin & Ivie, 1942 — USA to Guatemala
- Spiricoelotes Wang, 2002 — China, Japan, Ryukyu Is.
- Tamgrinia Lehtinen, 1967 — India, China
- Tararua Forster & Wilton, 1973 — New Zealand
- Tegecoelotes Ovtchinnikov, 1999 — Asia
- Tegenaria Latreille, 1804 — worldwide
- Textrix Sundevall, 1833 — Europe, Mediterranean, Ethiopia
- Tikaderia Lehtinen, 1967 — Himalayas
- Tonsilla Wang & Yin, 1992 — China
- Tortolena Chamberlin & Ivie, 1941 — USA, Mexico to Costa Rica
- Tuapoka Forster & Wilton, 1973 — New Zealand
- Urocoras Ovtchinnikov, 1999 — Europe
- Wadotes Chamberlin, 1925 — North America
- Jerome Goddard (3 December 2012). Physician's Guide to Arthropods of Medical Importance, Sixth Edition. CRC Press. pp. 380–. ISBN 978-1-4398-5085-5.
- Gaver-Wainwright, Melissa M.; Zack, Richard S.; Foradori, Matthew J.; Lavine, Laura Corley. Misdiagnosis of Spider Bites: Bacterial Associates, Mechanical Pathogen Transfer, and Hemolytic Potential of Venom from the Hobo Spider, Tegenaria agrestis (Araneae: Agelenidae). Journal of Medical Entomology 48(2):382-388. 2011 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1603/ME09224
-  Breene et al., 2003. Common Names of Arachnids, fifth edition
- Vetter, R. S., and A. L. Antonelli. 2002. How to identify (or misidentify) the hobo spider. Wash. St. Coop. Ext. Pest Leafl. Series No. 116
- Spagna, J. C., & Peattie, A. M. (2012). Terrestrial locomotion in arachnids. Journal of insect physiology, 58(5), 599-606.
- Gorb, S.N., Barth, F.G., 1994. Locomotor behavior during prey-capture of a fishing spider, Dolomedes plantarius (Araneae: Araneidae): galloping and stopping. The Journal of Arachnology 22, 89–93.
- Rainer Foelix (3 December 2010). Biology of Spiders. Oxford University Press, USA. pp. 320–. ISBN 978-0-19-981324-7.
- Vetter, Richard S.; Isbister, Geoffrey K. Do Hobo Spider Bites Cause Dermonecrotic Injuries? [Ann Emerg Med. 2004;44:605-607.]
-  The World Spider Catalog, Version 13.0 by Norman I. Platnick
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