Funnel spider at work

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Looking at this web one can see why the spider who built it is called a "Funnel" spider. 

Our children and Steven once fed captured insects to funnel spiders that inhabit these dwarf Alberta spruces. The spiders were so quick to pounce that they grabbed every insect thrown to them before it became tangled in the webbing. However, the webbing had many tears so we thought that its strands just served as trip alarms -- Insect lands, line breaks, spider is alerted, pounce!

Now, we've watched how the web works. Here's the story in pictures. Warning: if you have arachniphobia, DON'T LOOK!


The lacy white drapery over these spruces is a collection of  funnel spider's webs. The inhabitants of the webs eat everything, "good" and " bad" insects alike.


Every web has a silken funnel somewhere along its edge. A funnel spider lurks there waiting for the prey to come.


A squash bug is caught in one of the webs. The webbing seems so thin it appears the bug should be able to break it.


But the more the bug moved, the more entangled it got. Its legs became  pinned to its body after a brief struggle. Wondering where the spider is? We did too, and figured we were spooking it. So we turned our lens away and...


...photographed another spider that was lurking in its funnel. This spider wasn't spooked but moved toward the camera as itr advanced toward a bag worm caterpillar (not quite visible here).


So we turned back to the squash bug now being assaulted by the resident spider. The spider seemed to be sucking the life out of the bug which suddenly went limp.


Then the spider cradled the bug and...


...dashed back into its funnel. Once it was gone, only a slightly more shredded webbing indicated anything had happened.


For you photographers: all previous photos were taken in natural light. This photo was taken with a flash. Steven was hoping for a reflection off the bug and wished he could snip alll the needles out of the way. (Janet told him, "Thanks for the heads up, I won't go researching spruce needle snippers if I see holes in these spruces.")