Trapdoor Spider

Various species

Family: several families
Order: Araneae
Suborder: Mygalomorphae

Identification:
The term 'Trapdoor spider' is applied to many different burrowing species within the spider group Mygalomorphae, and correctly identifying them is a matter for specialists. The name is in reference to the silken lid that plugs the burrow. However, some Wolf spiders also make lids to their burrows, while some 'Trapdoor' spiders do not - confusing! Trapdoor spiders are robust, 1-5cm long, and black or brown in colour. Some have paler markings or a silky covering of hair. Mouse spiders are a kind of Trapdoor spider.

Distribution:
Different species are found in all parts of Australia including Tasmania. They are more diverse in moist forest habitats.

Life history:
Trapdoor spiders live in silk-lined burrows which they dig in the soil. The burrow protects the spider from predators and parasites and provides semi-constant conditions of temperature and humidity. One kind, the Tube spiders, extends the tube of silk several centimetres above ground, attached to a twig, rock or tree trunk. Female trapdoor spiders stay in the burrow their whole life, which may be up to 20 years. Males leave their burrow at maturity (around 2 or 3 years old) to wander in search of a mate, after which they perish. Trapdoor spiders feed mostly on ground-living insects captured at the entrance to the burrow.

Pest Status:
Some Trapdoor spiders reach a large size and can deliver a painful bite with large fangs. However, symptoms are usually no more than local pain and swelling.

Management:
Control is impractical and unnecessary.

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