Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Agelenidae: funnel weaver spiders




The agelenidae comprises 11 species in three genera, the best known, Tegenaria, or house spiders, includes several species difficult to identify without microscopic examination, and some that hybridise, further complicating identification. They weave sheet webs ending in a funnel. The spiders of this family, in particular house spiders appear to elicit fear or disgust in many people. Even William Bristowe, passionate arachnologist, confessed his 'horror' of the house spiders. The male's habit of rapidly running across the floor in the night, or appearing in the bath in the morning doesn't gain them any friends. Their amazingly long, hairy legs and large size doesn't make them endearing either. 
Males on the prowl
Tegenaria males mature in summer and autumn at two years of age and it is at this time of the year that them, which would have been living unobtrusively, in the corner of a room or behind a counter in the kitchen, leave their webs in search of females. They are most likely to be encountered then, either running across the floor a night or, in the morning, having fell into a bath from which they cannot escape. When a male meets an immature female he will stay on her web, waiting for her to mature and eventually mating with her. She accepts the male in her web and after more mating, the male will die.

A male Tegenaria sp. in the bath.
A Tegenaria moving across the floor.
Maternal spider
Female Tegenaria will lay several batches of eggs in spring in eggs sacs decorated with soil, debris or remains of prey. The spiderlings remain on their mothers web for a few weeks until ready to disperse. Read more about this topic in this post at Bugblog.
A female Tegenaria by her sheet web.
Tegenaria on her sheet web on ivy. I enticed her out of her retreat with some water spray.
A male Tegenaria, probably a T. gigantea x saeva hybrid. Males are slimmer and have longer legs than females. The modified male palps, used during mating, are visible in this photo and in the top photo of the same male.


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