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Species Notebook:

  • Labyrinth Spider

    Labyrinth Spider: a funnel web but not the funnel-web

    Post date: Tuesday, 26 August, 2014 - 00:00

    The labyrinth spider (Agelena labyrinthica) is primarily a spider of the open heaths where its makes its distinctive funnel-like 'nest' on heather and gorse, often low down near the ground. These funnelled nests and accompanying webbed platform can be seen from July through until late in the autumn.

    The base of the funnel at the centre of the web is where the eggs are laid in an egg sac suspended by silken threads. The spider stands guard at the entrance where their are lots of single strands, a bit like trip wires, that stop entering insects from an easy escape and gradually bringing them nearer to the central funnel from where Agelena can strike!

    I have heard people refer to these as funnel web spiders which, of course, they are not. Funnel web spiders are an Australian species and are renowned for being very poisonous where as this spider is quite harmless (to humans).

    They are extremely nervous creatures and quickly retreat down into their funnels at the first sign of trouble which makes photographing them very difficult. The one I found had just caught a scorpion fly and so its attention was elsewhere and I managed to get a sort of shot!


     

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