Sep 18 2008

What’s this cloud on the ground?

Published by at 7:23 am under Insects, Fish, Frogs

Funnel spider web (photo by Kate St. John)Or is it a galaxy?

Actually it’s a funnel spider web exposed by yesterday morning’s fog. 

Funnel-web spiders (Agelenidae) build a wide web with a central hole.  The spider hides in the hole waiting to feel the vibrations of an insect walking on the surface.  When he senses prey on the web he darts out, bites the prey and drags it back into the funnel to eat. 

The first time I ever saw a funnel web was on a foggy morning in Maine.  I immediately guessed that a spider was in the hole so I gently tapped the flat surface of the web with a long twig.  The spider looked out to see what was happening but my tapping was not gentle enough to fool him.  He retreated and refused to come out when I tried again.  

Fortunately funnel-web spiders in North America are harmless so it wasn’t dangerous for me to experiment like that.   Don’t try this trick in Australia!

(photo by Kate St. John)

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