Black House Spider web - Badumna insignis
Image: Ken Walker
Source: Museum Victoria
Question: Who made this funnel shaped web?
Answer: A Black House Spider.
Black House Spiders, (Badumna insignis) are one of the more common species of spiders to be found in our homes and gardens. They like to make their webs in the corners of window frames, or in brickwork, fences, tree bark and the like. The spiders make a funnel in their webs and wait at the back of this tunnel for something to land in their web. When this happens, the spiders will rush out and bite the prey. The lucky Black House Spiders are those who make their webs near porch or outside lights on our homes. Insects which are attracted to the lights at night will often blunder into the webs, providing the spiders with a constant food source.
The funnel shaped nature of the web leads some people to mistake them for funnel-web spiders, however funnel-web burrows are not built in window frames or fences and these spiders are not found in metropolitan Melbourne.
These spiders can look a bit intimidating as they are often very dark in colour, can reach up to 20mm in size and will rush out of the funnel to seize their prey. However, they are quite timid, and will generally spend most of their time waiting at the rear of their webs, out of sight of predators. Female spiders do not voluntarily leave their webs, but at certain times of the year the male Black House Spiders will go wandering looking for a female.
These spiders do a very good job in keeping down insect numbers, provide a food source for birds and are one of the preferred food sources for White-tailed Spiders. Because these spiders are timid, bites are rare but a bite could be painful and result in swelling, and sometimes nausea, sweating and giddiness.