Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Dewy Web of a Grass Spider

Web of grass (or funnel-web) spider (5)

I am sure that you have gone out into a meadow early in the morning and seen beautiful, sparkling spider webs spread like a carpet over the grasses. On the morning in July when I took this photo, I found an especially large and beautiful web in the back field. I think it is impossible to capture the beauty with a camera.

These webs are the horizontal web of grass spiders (family Agelenidae). These spiders are also called funnel-web and funnel-weaver spiders. The funnel is on the side of the web (we think it is the vague circular shape on the lower right corner of the web here) and the spider drags its prey into the funnel to eat it. These are not the funnelweb spiders of Australia that are very dangerous. Those are "primitive" (mygalomorph) spiders while our North American grass spiders are "true" (araneomorph) spiders. There are 9 genera of grass spiders in North America and 85 species. You know that next summer I will be paying close attention to these webs and trying to find the spider inside!

We found an interesting bug identification site to share: cirrusimage.com's spider page has awesome photographs. Be sure to go to their home page, also, at http://cirrusimage.com/ to explore the rest of the site.




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