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Posts Tagged ‘Agelenopsis’

If you go out early in the morning, you have undoubtedly seen flat dew-covered squares of web material scattered all over the ground. Yesterday morning at Huntley Meadows Park, I decided to explore several of them, hoping to find one of the spider-architects. Eventually I was able to find and photograph one of these spiders, which are commonly known as American Grass Spiders (g. Agelenopsis) or funnel weaver spiders.

According to an article on BugGuide.net, “For this family of spiders, the web is a horizontal, sheet-like web with a small funnel-like tube off to a side (or for some species, the middle of the web). This funnel is what the family is named for, and is used by the spider for hunting and protection. The spider will lay in wait in the funnel, and when an insect flies into, or lands on the web, the spider will rush out, very quickly check to see if it is prey, and if it is prey, bite it. The venom is fast-acting on the prey, so once the prey is subdued (within a second or two), the spider will drag the prey back into the funnel (for safety while eating, and to prevent other insects from recognizing the danger that lurks on the web).”

It’s fascinating to think about all the different ways that spiders are able to capture their prey, including all kinds of webs or even without webs, as is the case with jumping spiders and fishing spiders. It makes me happy that spiders are not larger, except perhaps in some Japanese science fiction movies, or we all might be in danger.

funnel weaver spider

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

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Have you ever woken up on a fall morning and noticed the dewy grass and bushes littered with spider webs? I don’t mean the beautiful geometric-patterned webs of the orb-weaving spiders, but webs that appear to be nothing more than loosely woven sheets of spider silk. Normally I don’t give them a second glance, but one morning this weekend I stopped and looked at one of them more closely.

Close-up of web in the grass

I discovered a beautiful little world, filled with tiny beads of water, captured by the threads of the web. I think the spider is a grass spider of the genus Agelenopsis. Wikipedia notes that the webs of grass spiders are not sticky, but the spiders makes up for that by being able to run really quickly.

Here is a view of an entire web through a telephoto lens. I was on a walkway several feet above ground-level when I took the shots, so I was not able to get actual close-up shots. The photo is not a very good one, but it gives you an idea of how nondescript the web looked at first glance.

Web in the grass

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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