Victorian Funnel-web Spider Hadronyche modesta

Spiders of Victoria series

Identification

The female Victorian Funnel-web Spider characteristically has a shiny black cephalothorax (fused head and thorax) and a dark brown to black abdomen. The male is similar to the female, although the cephalothorax and legs often have a polished lustre. In form, the Victorian Funnel-web is similar to the Melbourne Trap-door Spider, but the body is generally smaller and darker and lacks the rib-like markings on the top of the abdomen.

Photo of a Victorian Funnel-web Spider

A Victorian Funnel-web Spider
Photographer: Alan Henderson. Source: Museum Victoria

Habitat and biology

Around Melbourne, these spiders are only known from in the Dandenong Ranges area.

Female and male habits and biology are similar to the Melbourne Trap-door Spider. Females remain in or around their silk-lined burrow.

During late summer and autumn, males wander in search of females and may enter buildings.

Funnel-web spiders use ‘trip-wires’ to catch their prey. These trip-wires are strands of silk radiating from the burrow entrance. At night, the spider sits inside the entrance with its legs touching the silken strands. When it feels the vibrations of an insect tripping the wires, the spider pounces on the prey.

Bites

Although these spiders are related to the Sydney Funnel-web Spider, they have not been implicated in any fatalities or serious envenomations. They are only known to cause general symptoms such as headaches and nausea.

Further Reading

Brunnet, B. 1994. The Silken Web – A Natural History of Australian Spiders. Reed Books: Melbourne.

Lindsey, T. 1998. Spiders of Australia. New Holland Publishers: Sydney.

Walker, K. L., Yen, A. L. and Milledge, G. A. 2003. Spiders and Scorpions commonly found in Victoria. Royal Society of Victoria: Melbourne.

Comments (142)

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fparry 31 May, 2009 17:29
Two of these spiders have been found in Warrenheip Victoria. The first approx. 4-5 weeks ago, and the second one last night ie 30/5/09.
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EDWIN GARCIA 4 June, 2009 04:13
I´m not quite sure of what kind of spider i found, it looks almost identical that this one (Hadronyche modesta)but I´m not sure, i actually scanned it, where can i send you the image, the thing is that I´m in Mexico, and i thought those were only Australian spiders. PLEASE REPLY!
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Discovery Centre 14 June, 2009 14:40

Hi Edwin,

Please feel free to log your identification request and attach your images here. A museum arachnologist will look at your images and let you know what kind of spider you've found.

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Robyne McNally 20 July, 2009 14:53
Think I have caught one of these spiders in Koorlong, Vic near Mildura. Did think it was a Trapdoor but certainly looks more like a Victorian Funnelweb (didn't know they existed)
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deaedw 21 September, 2009 10:41
Definately caught one in the garden in Baxter, about 2 inches across!!
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Al 22 September, 2009 22:01
I have just sprayed one with Baygon in Taylors Lakes area. Not 100% sure if this was the funnel web but sure looks like nothing else.
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Nate dogg 3 November, 2009 20:12
Fairly sure tunnel found in diamond creek. Vic.
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Petrakim 15 April, 2013 19:38
Just found one in Hurstbridge, inside my house, with hatchlings, lots of them. I sprayed them, but will take a photo. It had a 'funnel' shaped web, which gave it away, and looks just like the photo.
Andrew 9 November, 2009 20:59
caught eight of these at home in Mitcham. All exactly like the photo and approx 1 - 1.5 inches across
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Rachael 20 November, 2009 12:44
Caught 2 of these in my outdoor laundry in Collingwood. One was already dead outside of the web, so I sprayed anyway, and another came out of the web in the ground when I did this. Is there anywhere you can take spiders in melbourne to confirm species?
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Discovery Centre 21 November, 2009 11:48

Hi Rachael - We offer a free identification service here at the Discovery Centre at the Melbourne Museum! Pop your specimen into a jar in the freezer, and when you have a moment, bring it in. The details of where we are, and the guidelines of the service, are available on the link above.

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sam 31 December, 2009 14:29
I saw a spider yesterday that looked very similar in Hawthorn East, Melbourne VIC
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Melanie Randell 1 January, 2010 20:55
Hi - Pretty sure have just identified one of these sitting in among gardening stuff on our balcony - we are in Prahran. At first thought it was the trapdoor but then upon closer inspection think it is the funnel web??
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meagain 29 January, 2010 14:27
im am 99% sure i just found one of these in front yard when i was gardening my young son almost trod on it. didnt know they were in victoria and was curious how they could get here from nsw. especially southern vic. [coronet bay/bass area]
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Discovery Centre 30 January, 2010 14:54

Thank you for your question. There are species of Funnel-web spider in Victoria as mentioned in the information shown in this sheet. However, the spiders are not the Sydney Funnel-web and do not have the same venom issues as the Sydney species.

People are welcome to send an image of their spider to discoverycentre@museum.vic.gov.au and we can try and identify it. If the spider has been found in the Coronet Bay area it is more likely to be a species of Trap-door spider than Funnel-web spider.

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rayray 17 February, 2010 21:37
found a male funnel web in knoxfield. sits in a hole near front door. quite aggressive when theres a fly in the web
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Julie Marshall 19 February, 2010 11:45
We have a large infestation of the Victorian funnel Web spider, we live in Brunswick and have had no success in eradicating them. I was happy when they stayed in the garden but they are now coming in the house.
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Markus 9 March, 2010 21:15
I believe I have found a Victorian Funnel Web on Phillip Island Red Rocks area. We have found six so far after the heavy rains over the weekend. I have taken photo's and am concerned for children's safety. The only difference from the photo is there is a grey spot on the abdomen towards the head. Looks more like a Sydney Funnel Web to me? Thankyou
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edel maher 10 March, 2010 07:34
we live on phillip island and my kids found a funnel web in the back yard,it is exactly like the one shown in picture. on closer inspection of back yard it is covered in holes with silk webs covering,what should i do,please advise. ive also got alot of white tailed spiders in the house
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edel 10 March, 2010 12:43
you are defiently right marcus,i have no doubt they are funnel web spiders and like yourself i am concerned for safety of my kids
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Discovery Centre 12 March, 2010 10:30

Hi Markus and Edel,

I understand your concern, but remember spiders have no interest in people. They do not feed on us and do not seek us out. If people make sure not to place themselves in jeopardy the chances of a bite are very low. Take care when gardening, explain to the kids not to dig the spiders up or put their fingers in the holes and they are unlikely to get bitten. Being on Phillip Island the spiders are more likely to be trapdoors, but even if they are a species of Victorian Funnel-web, these spiders are not known to have the venom toxicity of the Sydney Funnel-web.

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Malcolm Grant 21 March, 2010 14:41
Hi, I was bitten by one yesterday, identified as a Victorian Funnel-web. I can attest that the bite hurts alot. I received localised pain to the hand with a 50cm area turning red and being slighlty puffy. I felt a small amount of nausea for several hours, with the symptom passing after 2 hours. The bite area has remained sore 24hrs later, reduced in redness with two puncture wounds clearly visible. Regards, Malcolm
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Renny 21 March, 2010 17:21
can fuunle webs kill you
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Discovery Centre 24 March, 2010 11:47

Hi Renny,

the Sydney Funnel-web has caused human fatalities but there has not been one since the introduction of an antivenom in 1981. If you have a look at the information under 'Bites' in this information sheet you can find information on the Victorian Funnel-web.

 

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Bethany 25 March, 2010 00:29
Hi, I think i just found a funnel web spider in my bathroom in East Keilor, it had built its web in the window frame of our window that we had left open. The web had two 'openings'. Do funnel web spiders build webs inside? It wasnt sitting outside the web and i dont live anywhere near the dandenongs but the photo is almost identical.
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Discovery Centre 25 March, 2010 10:41

Hi Bethany,

Funnel-web spiders do not build in window frames, so your spider will not be a funnel-web. Without seeing an image I would imagine your spider is most likely a Black House Spider, Badumna insignis. See this link.

http://museumvictoria.com.au/discoverycentre/infosheets/spiders-found-in-victoria/spiders---meet-your-housemates/

 

 

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Justin Cooper 6 April, 2010 13:33
I've seen 2 of these and accidently killed one splitting wood in Dales Creek VIC (Near Blackwood in the Wombat Forest).I could rescue the encephalothorax if you wish and send it to you but all features match and it had a silk nest in a fallen tree section. ps great resource you have here! Knowing their mild toxicty helped me reassure and educate my son...
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Discovery Centre 7 April, 2010 10:36

Thanks for the offer, Justin, and we're pleased you like this resource. However, there's no need for an extra encephalothorax in our collection. This one can stay in the wild! 

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Debra Dickson 8 April, 2010 20:29
I was bitten this morning by what i believe was a victorian funnel web. The bite was very painfull and i have experienced nausea and headaches all day, other than that there doesnt seem to be any other problems. I live in the Emerald area of the Dandenong ranges.
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Riley Buchanan 25 April, 2010 16:58
I found a victorian funnel web under a bale of hay on our farm near Meredith. It reared up at me and gave me a fright. I caught it an icecream container and went to show Mum. She took some photos. It's body was about 3 - 3.5cm long. Then I let it go back in the paddock where I found it.
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kirsty 6 June, 2010 01:41
I have just seen vic funnel web number four in the same area in my home. I live in Boronia but more The Basin side at the foothills of the dandenongs. This one was in my kids Bedroom, time to get someone out to spray!
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Suzie 11 July, 2010 13:24
We live in Jan Juc and have 100s of holes up to 1cm diameter in a moist, dark area of our garden. Some of the holes have web layering the side of the hole in the tunnel and some have web across the top of the hole. I have not seen any spiders yet, but my husband saw one yesterday that he and our neighbour believe looks very much like a funnel web. When prodded it jumped about 20cm very quickly. I am worried we have an infestation of funnel webs (or trap-doors?) This worries me because we have a young child who loves to play in the garden.
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suzie 12 July, 2010 13:41
my question regarding my previous post is - is there anything that can be done to erradicate the spiders? Thank you
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Discovery Centre 12 July, 2010 14:59

Hi Suzie, if you live in Jan Juc it is more likely that you may have trapdoor or wolf spiders than funnel-webs. It is very difficult to eradicate spiders as the young of a number of species disperse by using filaments of silk in a process known as ballooning. So even if you dig up and kill every spider you find, others will recolonise suitable habitat over time. You are also far more likely to get bitten trying to dig up and kill a spider than if you leave them alone. The best thing is to be aware of their presence and educate the kids into not diggging them up or putting their fingers in the holes.

These spiders can be quite common and while we receive hundreds of enquiries about them, the number of actual bites that we are contacted about has been extremely low over the years.

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Nicole 3 September, 2010 21:36