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Oh, what a tangled web we weave: Trapdoors

October 29, 2011

Photo credit: floridapest.com

There’s no way out.

As smaller, less hairy relatives of the tarantula, trapdoor spiders definitely leave many humans in fear – that is, if a human is lucky enough to see one. These spiders are cunning and sly. There’s no denying that these large, terrestrial spiders are out for blood – large arthropod and lizard blood, that is.

Trapdoor spiders build tube-like tunnels in undisturbed areas. They build them along natural insect walkways – a prime location for capturing their prey. They build a “trapdoor” at the top of the tunnel, which they use to surprise their “dinner guests.” As arthropods and small lizards travel down the insect walkways, the trapdoor spider waits in its tunnel below, anticipating vibrations which signal that their guest has arrived – somewhat like a doorbell. When they receive this signal, the spiders are nothing less than supreme hosts. In fact, they welcome their guests in themselves – swiftly, I might add. Sorry Lurch, no need for you here.

These spiders’ bodies are equipped with tools to build their dwelling entirely on their own. Their mouth parts have digging rakes on them which are used to loosen soil. Then their spined, hind legs – which are mighty shiny – are used to roll the soil and toss it from the construction site. The doors to their dwellings vary. Some trapdoor spiders build “cork”-type doors, which are very thick and designed to fill the opening entirely. “Wafer”-type doors are merely silk and soil. Both door types have silk hinges which allows the host to open and close the door with ease.

Trapdoor spiders thoroughly enjoy their dinner guests. However, they sometimes receive guests which are unwelcome. Parasitic wasps occasionally attempt to break into the spiders’ home. In fact, they can chew right through the trapdoors. These wasps don’t just stop by for a bite – they’re interested in a full-course meal. In these times, the spiders use their tunnels as shelters. Sometimes they branch out or have multiple entry-points. The tunnels are also used by female trapdoor spiders as nurseries, raising babies in until they are about eight months old.

Welcome to the house of horrors. Sit back and relax…there’s no way out of here. 

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One Response to “Oh, what a tangled web we weave: Trapdoors”


  1. […] blog posts about spiders under the spider category. Here are a few links: ogre-faced, black widow, trapdoor, the wolf spider and the Mexican Red Rump Tarantula. […]


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