Types of Trapdoor Spiders: Discovering Nature’s Hidden World

Trapdoor spiders are fascinating creatures that belong to the Araneae order and the Ctenizidae family. One of the most speciose genera within this family is Ummidia, which includes around 50 species, some of which are still undescribed. These spiders can be found all across the United States, particularly in the East and the Southwest, extending up to Colorado. They’re known for their interesting habits and unique physical features, such as their silk-lined, underground burrows with trapdoor-like lids for camouflage and ambush.

As you explore the world of trapdoor spiders, you’ll discover that they have a few natural enemies. One notable predator is the spider wasps from the Pompilidae family. These wasps are known to specialize in hunting and parasitizing spiders, including tarantula hawks, which are large pompilid wasps that commonly attack tarantulas. It’s essential to understand how these various types of trapdoor spiders interact with their environment and other species, in order to appreciate their role in the ecosystem better.

Additionally, the diverse habitats within which trapdoor spiders thrive include shaded ravines, north-facing slopes, and specific soil types. Recognizing these microhabitat preferences is crucial as it highlights the importance of preserving these habitats to support the ongoing survival and conservation of trapdoor spiders. So, as you delve into the intriguing world of these spiders, you’ll uncover the captivating features and ecological significance of trapdoor spiders in our vast and complex natural world.

Overview of Trapdoor Spiders

Trapdoor spiders are fascinating creatures belonging to the infraorder Mygalomorphae. These spiders are known for their unique hunting techniques and intriguing burrows.

These spiders inhabit silk-lined, underground burrows with their namesake “trapdoors.” As they wait for prey, they remain hidden within their burrows and quickly emerge to catch unsuspecting victims. Trapdoor spiders are widespread in locations such as the United States and Australia.

One key feature of trapdoor spiders is their poor dispersal capabilities. Unlike some species like the Ummidia Thorell, these spiders rarely disperse by ballooning.

A couple of interesting characteristics to note about trapdoor spiders are:

  • They are generally large and stout-bodied
  • They have vertically moving jaws
  • They are long-lived, with some species living up to 25 years

Various species of trapdoor spiders exist, such as the Ummidia, which is the most speciose genus with about 50 different species. Other species belonging to the Conothele Thorell line are known as “cork-lid trapdoor spiders.” Elements such as size, leg span, and behavior may differ slightly between species.

In conclusion, trapdoor spiders are an intriguing group of mygalomorph spiders. With their distinct hunting techniques, various species, and notable characteristics, they offer a fascinating subject for all who encounter them.

Physical Characteristics

General Appearance

Trapdoor spiders typically have a dark, black color that helps them blend into their surroundings. The abdomen is covered in thick, coarse hairs which provide them with some protection and insulation. Some notable features of these spiders include:

  • Large, powerful jaws
  • Stout, sturdy legs
  • Stocky, almost armored body

Male Vs. Female Trapdoor Spiders

When comparing males and females, there are some differences in their physical appearance:

Male Trapdoor Spiders:

  • Smaller in size compared to females
  • More slender abdomen
  • Longer, more agile legs for wandering during mating season

Female Trapdoor Spiders:

  • Larger and more robust than males
  • Abdomen is wider and rounder, suited for carrying eggs
  • Less mobile, spending most of their lives within their burrows

A comparison table between male and female trapdoor spiders can be helpful:

Feature Male Trapdoor Spider Female Trapdoor Spider
Size Smaller Larger
Abdomen Slender Rounded
Legs Longer, agile Shorter, stronger

Brush-Footed Trapdoor Spiders

A unique group within the trapdoor spider family are the brush-footed trapdoor spiders. Some distinguishing characteristics include:

  • Soft, brush-like hairs on their front legs
  • Use their modified front legs for sensing vibrations in their environment
  • Often found in very specific habitats, such as coastal sand dunes or woodland areas

To summarize, trapdoor spiders are fascinating creatures with unique physical characteristics that set them apart from other species. By understanding their general appearance, differences between males and females, and the intriguing brush-footed trapdoor spiders, you can better appreciate the complexity of these amazing arthropods.

Habitat and Distribution

North America

In North America, trapdoor spiders of the genus Ummidia can be found. They live in silk-lined, underground burrows across the eastern US and the southwest, spanning as far north as Colorado. Ummidia is a diverse genus, with about 50 species, including several undiscovered ones.

South America

South American trapdoor spiders belong to the New World Ummidia species. With 20 known species present in this region, South America has a rich diversity of trapdoor spiders.


In Australia, you can find trapdoor spiders from the family Halonoproctidae. One example is the Conothele Thorell species, which belongs to this family and has poor dispersal capabilities.


Trapdoor spiders are less common in Japan, and information about specific species in this region is limited. However, it’s possible that some species from the Mygalomorphae suborder, which includes trapdoor spiders, inhabit Japan.


Similar to Japan, specific details about trapdoor spiders in Singapore are limited. But, since Singapore is rich in biodiversity, it’s reasonable to expect some species of trapdoor spiders to reside there.

Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea houses many species of trapdoor spiders, primarily from the Conothele Thorell genus. These spiders, also in the Halonoproctidae family, may have speciation patterns influenced by their habitats and distribution patterns.

In conclusion, trapdoor spiders can be found across various continents, inhabiting diverse habitats. They typically live in silk-lined, underground burrows and are distributed across regions like North and South America, Australia, and Papua New Guinea. While specific information about species in Japan and Singapore is limited, it’s likely that these countries also house some types of trapdoor spiders.

Classification and Families


Ctenizidae is a family of trapdoor spiders known for their silk-lined, underground burrows. The most speciose genus within this family is Ummidia, with about 50 species, several of which are undescribed1. Some examples of Ctenizidae include:

  • Ummidia sp.
  • Conothele Thorell


Idiopidae are another family within the Mygalomorphae infraorder. They are also referred to as “armored trapdoor spiders.” Similar to other trapdoor spiders, they too live in silk-lined burrows.


Actinopodidae is a family of spiders that mainly reside in South America and Australia. They are known as “mouse spiders” or “funnel-web tarantulas.” They differ from other trapdoor spiders due to the distinction in their burrow and web structure.


Barychelidae, also known as “brush-footed trapdoor spiders,” are predominantly found in tropical regions. These spiders have thick, brush-like scopulae on their limbs, hence their common name.


Cyrtaucheniidae are referred to as “wafer-lid trapdoor spiders” because of their unique lid structure. Their distribution is mainly across the Americas and Africa.


Migidae, often called “tree trapdoor spiders,” prefer arboreal (tree-dwelling) habitats. They are mainly found in Australia, Africa, and South America.


Antrodiaetidae, or “folding-door spiders,” are native to North America. These spiders create burrows that have unique lids resembling folding doors.


The Halonoproctidae family is an updated classification that now includes some spiders previously under the Ctenizidae family2. Examples of Halonoproctidae are the Conothele Thorell and Ummidia sp.


Nemesiidae is a widespread family of trapdoor spiders present in various habitats. They are commonly found in temperate to subtropical regions.


The Theraphosidae family comprises well-known spiders such as tarantulas. They are primarily known for their size and robust, hairy bodies.

Behavior and Lifestyle

Diet and Prey

Trapdoor spiders primarily feed on insects such as flies, moths, and caterpillars. They also consume other arthropods like centipedes and even smaller spiders. You might find it interesting that some larger species can prey on small vertebrates like frogs and mice.

These spiders are ambush predators. They wait in their silk-lined, underground burrows until they detect vibrations from a passing prey. Once the suitable prey crosses their path, they quickly emerge to capture it.


Trapdoor spiders, despite their impressive hunting skills, have their own set of natural predators. Some of these predators include:

  • Birds: Birds such as magpies can locate and dig out trapdoor spiders from their burrows.
  • Wasps: Certain parasitic wasps specifically target trapdoor spiders, laying their eggs on or inside the spider, which eventually leads to the spider’s demise.
  • Scorpions: These arachnids share similar habitats with trapdoor spiders and can prey on them given the opportunity.
  • Bandicoots: Small, insectivorous mammals like bandicoots may dig up trapdoor spiders as they forage for food.

Although trapdoor spiders are generally timid and prefer to stay hidden, their lives may still often be in danger from these predators. To protect themselves, they rely on their burrow’s secure doors and their ability to sense vibrations, staying out of sight whenever possible.

Reproduction and Spiderlings

Trapdoor spiders, like the ones from the genus Ummidia, reproduce through mating. In this process, a mature male spider encounters a female and mates with her. Mating can be a risky venture for the male as some females may try to eat them after mating.

After a successful mating, the female lays her eggs. These eggs mature within her silk-lined burrow, where they remain protected. Once the eggs hatch, they produce a brood of spiderlings.

  • Spiderlings are small versions of adult trapdoor spiders.
  • They remain with their mother for a short period.

As they grow, spiderlings gradually venture out of their mother’s burrow. They create their own silk-lined burrows and start hunting for prey. With each molt, the spiderlings get closer to their adult size.


  • Mature males leave their burrows to find mates.
  • Females lay eggs in their burrows and care for the spiderlings.

In summary, trapdoor spider reproduction involves a mature male seeking a female for mating. After mating, a female lays eggs in her burrow, which eventually hatch into spiderlings. These spiderlings stay close to their mother until they’re capable of venturing out and building their own burrows, signaling the start of their independent lives.

Human Interaction and Bites

Trapdoor spiders are generally not known to cause harm to humans. They prefer hiding in their burrows, avoiding contact with people. However, if they feel threatened or accidentally disturbed, these spiders might bite in self-defense.

The pain caused by a trapdoor spider bite can vary. Some bites might be slightly painful, while others can be more severe. It’s essential to know that different species might have different effects on people due to their venom. For example, bites from the following spiders can result in serious consequences:

  • Species 1
  • Species 2
  • Species 3

In general, it is wise to take precautionary measures when working or walking near areas where trapdoor spiders might reside. Keeping your distance and being mindful of your surroundings can help reduce the likelihood of encountering a trapdoor spider and minimize the risk of being bitten.

Here is a comparison table to summarize some general factors regarding trapdoor spider bites:

Factor Trapdoor Spider Bite
Pain Can be mild to severe
Venom Varies by species
Risk to humans Low
Prevention Avoid disturbing their habitat

By respecting these spiders’ habitats and taking necessary precautions, you can reduce the possibility of an unpleasant encounter with a trapdoor spider and enjoy the outdoors without worry.

Trapdoor Spiders and Arachnologists

Trapdoor spiders are fascinating arachnids studied by arachnologists. These unique creatures live in silk-lined, underground burrows and are known for their stealthy hunting techniques. One trapdoor spider genus that arachnologists often study is Ummidia, which is widespread in the United States and has about 50 species.

As an enthusiast of arachnids, you might be surprised by the amount of new species continuously being discovered. For example, only five species were described in the past 125 years in the Myrmekiaphila genus, yet researchers believe there could be even more undiscovered ones. This highlights the vastness of these elusive creatures waiting to be explored by arachnologists.

Some unique features of trapdoor spiders include:

  • Silk-lined burrows for habitat
  • Hinged, camouflaged “trap” made from silk and soil
  • Ambush predators, capturing prey near the burrow entrance
  • Limited long-distance dispersal ability

One interesting aspect of trapdoor spiders is their limited vagility when compared to other arachnids or even some vertebrates. Arachnologists have found that trapdoor spiders have extreme population structuring and are known to be non-vagile, meaning they usually don’t move long distances.

In conclusion, trapdoor spiders showcase the diverse world of arachnids, offering arachnologists a broad variety of species across multiple genera to study and understand. As you delve into arachnids, keep in mind the fascinating features and behaviors these creatures have to offer, making them an exciting subject to learn more about.

Role in Ecosystems

Trapdoor spiders play an essential role in their ecosystems. These arthropods are predators that help control insect populations, balancing the flora and fauna within their habitat.

As a hunter, the trapdoor spider lies in wait until an unsuspecting insect comes too close to its silk-lined, underground burrow. Once the prey is within reach, the spider quickly snatches the unfortunate insect and pulls it back into the burrow for consumption. This action helps keep insect populations in check.

Trapdoor spiders contribute to the complex web of interactions among various species in the ecosystem. They are an important source of food for other animals, such as birds, reptiles, and mammals. By serving as both predator and prey, trapdoor spiders play a role in maintaining the stability and diversity of the ecosystem.

Their burrowing behavior benefits the soil by aerating it and allowing water to penetrate deeper. This creates a healthier environment for plants and other organisms that live underground. Furthermore, trapdoor spiders’ activities contribute to controlling potentially harmful insects that can damage plants or transmit diseases to fauna.

In short, the presence of trapdoor spiders benefits their ecosystem by:

  • Controlling insect populations
  • Serving as a food source for larger predators
  • Aiding in soil aeration and water penetration

By understanding the importance of trapdoor spiders in ecosystems, you can appreciate their role in maintaining balance among flora and fauna, showcasing the interconnectedness of all living organisms.

Historical and Archaeological Significance

Fossil Record

You may wonder about the historical and archaeological significance of trapdoor spiders. A major aspect is the existence of extinct species, preserved as spider fossils. Studying these fossils provides valuable insights into the evolution and ancient history of these fascinating creatures.

In particular, spider fossils from the Miocene era have been discovered and analyzed. The Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society has published findings on some of these ancient specimens, offering a better understanding of trapdoor spider species through time.

Specific Discoveries

One remarkable discovery took place in Australia, at a site called McGraths Flat. Researchers found what appears to be the first-ever fossil of an Australian trapdoor spider, which has been named Megamonodontium mccluskyi. This discovery is notable because it documents the presence of trapdoor spiders in Australia millions of years ago.

Another interesting deposit of spider fossils is the goethite formation, a type of iron oxide mineral that preserves spider remains exceptionally well. The analysis of these fossils contributes to our knowledge of extinct spider lineages, helping shed light on their morphology and behavior.

To summarize:

  • Fossil records show the existence of extinct trapdoor spider species
  • Miocene Era spider fossils have been studied extensively
  • Specific discoveries include Megamonodontium mccluskyi and goethite-preserved specimens

By exploring the historical and archaeological significance of trapdoor spiders, researchers can better understand these creatures and their contribution to Earth’s biodiversity through time.


  1. Arthropod Museum – University of Arkansas

  2. Taxonomic revision of the New World members of the trapdoor spider

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Trapdoor Spider


Hi Bugman
I discovered this spider on the steps at work in Kill Devil Hills N.C. two days before Christmas at around midnight. I thought she was absolutely gorgeous so I took a couple pictures and returned her to the wild. I believe from your site that it is a female Trapdoor spider. I just love the blue abdomen. Can you confirm my supposition and any further information would be appreciated!

We agree that this is a Trapdoor Spider. It is in the genus Ummidia. We are not convinced it is a female. Females rarely leave their burrow and it is the males that wander in search of a mate. The legs on your specimen seem short (could be camera angle) like those of a female, but the pedipalps are rather large, indicating a male spider. Perhaps someone with more knowlege will write in to clarify.

Letter 2 – Trap Door Spider


HUGE Red Creepy Sow Bug Killer(?) in Oklahoma
April 20, 2010
I found this nasty looking spider about a week ago in central Oklahoma. I think it’s a sow bug killer, but the coloring looks more red than the other pictures I’ve seen. He was about an inch and a half long. His eyes were grouped tightly together and his legs and abdomen were covered in black bristles. His pedipalps were really long, almost as long as his front legs, and I think he had “claws” on the ends (I couldn’t really tell because he kept them tucked up by his fangs). When I found him, he was hiding in a burrow under a log. This guy was really calm and cooperative as I took his picture. Thanks any help with the I.D.
Josh Kouri

Folding Door Spider

Hi Josh,
This is definitely not a Sow Bug Killer, Dysdera crocata, which you can compare to this nice photograph of a similar angle on BugGuide.  Your spider looks to us like a Folding Door Spider in the genus Antrodiaetus which is also pictured on BugGuide.  Folding Door Spiders are a group of Trapdoor Spiders that live in tubes which they close by drawing in the rim according to BugGuide.

Folding Door Spider

Read more

What Do Trapdoor Spiders Eat: A Quick Guide to Their Diet

Trapdoor spiders are fascinating creatures known for their unique hunting strategies. These spiders reside in silk-lined, underground burrows, waiting patiently for their prey to come close enough for them to strike. As you explore the world of trapdoor spiders, you might be curious about what they eat. These crafty hunters primarily feed on small insects … Read more

What Do Trapdoor Spiders Look Like? A Quick Guide to Identifying Them

Trapdoor spiders are fascinating creatures that can often be tricky to identify due to their well-camouflaged burrows. These spiders belong to the Ctenizidae family and can be found predominantly in the East and Southwest regions of the United States, with the Ummidia genus being the most diverse, consisting of approximately 50 species source. If you’re … Read more

Where Do Trapdoor Spiders Live: Unveiling Their Secret Habitats

Trapdoor spiders are fascinating creatures known for their unique ability to construct underground burrows with a trapdoor made of silk and soil. Typically, these spiders can be found living in silk-lined underground burrows in various locations. For example, they have a wide distribution in the United States, particularly in the Eastern and Southwestern regions, extending north to Colorado Arthropod Museum.

You might be interested to know that there are about 50 different species of trapdoor spiders, which belong to the genus Ummidia. These spiders are quite adaptable, and their choice of habitat may be influenced by factors such as climate, vegetation, and the availability of prey. So, whether you’re a curious observer or an aspiring arachnid enthusiast, understanding the habitats of trapdoor spiders can provide valuable insights into the fascinating world of these elusive creatures.

Understanding Trapdoor Spiders

Trapdoor spiders are fascinating arachnids that belong to the Ctenizidae family. These spiders can be found in the United States, predominantly in the East and Southwest regions up to Colorado. There are about 50 species of trapdoor spiders, with several still undescribed.

These spiders are called “trapdoor spiders” because they live in silk-lined, underground burrows. They create a hinged trapdoor made of silk, soil, and vegetation to conceal the entrance. When unsuspecting prey comes close, the spider quickly springs out to catch it.

Size and Appearance

  • Trapdoor spiders have stocky bodies and thick legs.
  • Their size varies depending on the species, but some can measure up to 1.5 inches in length.
  • They can be brown, black, or reddish in color.

Habitat and Diet

  • Trapdoor spiders live in diverse environments, including forests and deserts.
  • They primarily feed on insects and other arachnids.
  • They do not build webs for catching prey; instead, they rely on their trapdoor burrows for ambushing.

Trapdoor spiders are mygalomorphs, which means they are closely related to tarantulas and funnel-web spiders. Like their relatives, they have powerful jaws and fangs, but their venom is generally considered less toxic to humans. Trapdoor spiders are hunters, not using a web to capture prey. Instead, they patiently wait in their burrows for food to pass by.

During mating season, males search for females to mate with. After successful mating, the female lays her eggs inside the burrow and stays with her spiderlings. The mother spider provides protection until the spiderlings are ready to venture out on their own.

In conclusion, understanding trapdoor spiders helps you appreciate the diverse world of arachnids. Learning about their habitat, diet, and behavior can be an enriching experience for everyone interested in these incredible creatures.

Characteristics of Trapdoor Spiders

Trapdoor spiders are unique creatures that have interesting characteristics. These spiders live in silk-lined, underground burrows and have a variety of features that set them apart from other spider species.

Physical Features:

  • Size: Their body size ranges from small to over an inch, with some females reaching up to 1.5 inches long.
  • Colors: They are usually brownish-gray, which helps them blend into their natural environment.
  • Legs: Trapdoor spiders have eight legs, with the front two pairs being larger and stronger, similar to crab spiders.


  • Webs: Unlike many other spiders, trapdoor spiders do not spin webs to catch their prey.
  • Aggression: They are generally not aggressive, but can be very defensive when threatened.

Bites and Venom:

  • Fangs: Although they possess fangs, trapdoor spiders rarely bite humans.
  • Pain and Swelling: If they do bite, the bite can be painful and may cause some localized swelling but is not considered dangerous.

When observing trapdoor spiders, remember that while they may appear intimidating, they are not aggressive towards humans and serve an important role in their ecosystem. Always be cautious and respectful around these fascinating creatures.

Habitats of Trapdoor Spiders

Trapdoor spiders are known to inhabit silk-lined, underground burrows, providing them with a unique hiding and hunting strategy. In the United States, these spiders can be found in various regions, particularly in the East and the Southwest up to Colorado. Some species also thrive in tropical regions like Africa, Australia, and South America.

These spiders reside in diverse habitats ranging from forests to deserts, and each environment has different species adapted to the region’s conditions. For instance, Ummidia is the most speciose genus with about 50 species and can be found in subtropical regions and North America.

The choice of habitat for trapdoor spiders depends mostly on the availability of proper soil for burrow construction. Let’s have a look at the soil preferences:

  • Soft and pliable soil, usually in humid regions
  • Well-drained soil for avoiding floods

However, the environment must also provide adequate prey availability. Similarly, regions with human activity or agricultural fields may not be the best habitats for trapdoor spiders.

Here is a quick comparison of some of their preferred habitats:

Region Climate Landforms
Eastern US Temperate Forests
Southwestern US Arid to semi-arid Deserts, forests
Tropical regions Hot, humid Rainforests, savannas
Subtropical regions Mild temperatures Mixed landscapes

In conclusion, trapdoor spiders adapt to various habitats, with their top priority being suitable soil for burrow construction and sufficient prey availability. By understanding their habitat preferences, you can gain a greater appreciation for the diverse environments in which these fascinating creatures thrive.

Trapdoor Spiders’ Burrowing and Hunting Mechanism

Trapdoor spiders are fascinating creatures known for their unique hunting and burrowing techniques. They live in silk-lined, underground burrows and are widespread in parts of the United States, especially in the East and Southwest regions.

These spiders use their strong legs and fangs to dig deep tunnels into the soil. You might be amazed to know that they line their burrows with silk, providing a smooth and comfortable home. The burrows are also equipped with a trapdoor that is cleverly camouflaged with soil and vegetation.

  • Good at digging
  • Create silk-lined burrows
  • Camouflage the trapdoor with soil and vegetation

The hunting technique of trapdoor spiders is both stealthy and efficient. They patiently wait for their prey in the burrow. When an unsuspecting insect comes near the entrance, the spider quickly opens its trapdoor, captures the prey, and retreats into the tunnel.

  • Patient hunters
  • Ambush their prey from the burrow
  • Quick and stealthy

This amazing combination of burrowing and hunting mechanisms allows trapdoor spiders to remain hidden and protected while catching their prey. Isn’t it fascinating how these tiny creatures have adapted to their environment using such ingenious methods?

Trapdoor Spiders’ Mating and Lifespan

Trapdoor spiders exhibit interesting mating behaviors. When it comes to reproduction, these spiders have a distinct mating season. Generally, mature males wander in search of receptive females, whom they court and eventually mate with.

Usually, the female trapdoor spider remains in her burrow during this period. After the two mate, the female often attempts to cannibalize the male. However, males are known to escape to continue their search for other mates.

After mating, females lay eggs within their burrows. These eggs later hatch into spiderlings, which go on to live in close proximity to their mother’s burrow. In some cases, the spiderlings may even share their mother’s burrow as they mature.

As for their lifespan, most trapdoor spiders, like other spiders in New York’s northern climate, typically live for only one year. They tend to pass the winter as eggs, develop into adults during the summer, and then die in the fall. In contrast, some species may overwinter as inactive adults, allowing them to live longer lives. This differs from other types of spiders, displaying the unique lifecycle of trapdoor spiders.

Remember, while observing these fascinating creatures, it’s important to marvel at the intricacies of their mating behaviors and lifecycles, but always respect their habitats and maintain a safe distance.

Diversity and Types of Trapdoor Spiders

Trapdoor spiders belong to the infraorder Mygalomorphae, which includes other distinct spiders like tarantulas and funnel-web spiders. These spiders can be found in various families, such as Ctenizidae, Actinopodidae, and Migidae.

The Ctenizidae family features the Ummidia genus, which is the most speciose, with about 50 species. You’ll find these spiders in silk-lined, underground burrows throughout the United States, mainly in the East and Southwest north to Colorado.

Sigillate trapdoor spiders are another type commonly found in Australia. These spiders are known for their cork-like burrows, which blend with their surroundings, making them difficult to spot.

Brown trapdoor spiders, often mistaken for funnel-web spiders, are native to Australia. However, their venom is not as potent. Here’s a comparison table to help you distinguish between the two types:

Feature Brown Trapdoor Spider Funnel-Web Spider
Size Up to 3.5 cm Up to 5 cm
Appearance Brown, hairy Dark, shiny
FANGS Orientation Sideways Downwards
Burrow Cork-Lid Funnel-Web

Some key features characterizing these various trapdoor spiders include:

  • Silk-lined, underground burrows
  • Unique trapdoor mechanisms that vary by species
  • Poor dispersal abilities, mostly ground-dwelling

Remember, these arachnids are not only diverse in appearance but also in terms of their natural habitats. Be sure to appreciate the incredible variety of trapdoor spiders while exploring their world!

Trapdoor Spiders and Human Interaction

Trapdoor spiders are fascinating creatures that live in silk-lined, underground burrows. You might encounter them in the East and Southwest of the United States. These spiders are mostly harmless and prefer hiding in their burrows than interacting with humans.

Though their bite could be painful, trapdoor spiders are not aggressive. They’re rather timid and would only bite when feeling threatened. If bitten by a trapdoor spider, you may experience local pain and swelling, but their venom is not considered dangerous to humans.

When dealing with trapdoor spiders, remember to:

  • Approach them with care
  • Avoid provoking them
  • Seek medical attention if bitten, as a precaution

By understanding and respecting their nature, you can coexist peacefully with these interesting arachnids.

Predators and Threats to Trapdoor Spiders

Trapdoor spiders face various predators and threats in their natural habitats. Here’s a brief look at some of the predators and insects that pose danger to these spiders:

Birds: Many bird species, such as magpies and thrushes, pose a threat to trapdoor spiders. They can easily prey on these spiders when they venture out of their burrows.

Wasps: Some types of wasps, especially parasitic wasps, can be dangerous for trapdoor spiders. A specific species of wasp is known to paralyze the spider and lay its eggs on the immobilized victim. The wasp larvae eventually consume the spider.

Scorpions and Centipedes: As other arachnids and myriapods, scorpions and centipedes have the ability to capture and consume trapdoor spiders.

Bandicoots: These small, omnivorous marsupials may also feed on trapdoor spiders, digging into their burrows and consuming them.

To put things into perspective, consider the following comparison table:

Predator Threat Level Remarks
Birds High Can easily prey on trapdoor spiders
Wasps High Can paralyze and consume the spider
Scorpions Moderate Can capture and eat trapdoor spiders
Centipedes Moderate Can capture and eat trapdoor spiders
Bandicoots Low Can dig into burrows and consume spiders

It’s important for you to remember that while trapdoor spiders face these dangers, they are still amazing predators themselves, helping manage insect populations in their ecosystems. They use their cunning to hide in their silk-lined burrows, quietly waiting for prey to cross their paths before they strike.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Trapdoor Spider from Oregon


Subject: Possible Mygalomorph in Monmouth, OR
Location: Monmouth, Oregon
February 12, 2016 11:12 pm
I’m a hobby arachnologist and I frequently get friends sending me pics of spiders they’ve taken and asking what they are. Usually I can pretty quickly ID them but this little beauty is a bit of a stumper.
It looks like he has palps, but it could be my imagination. Those spots are familiar to me but I can’t find a ready ID. I was thinking Mygalomorph, but they’re so uncommon in Oregon, I must be crazy!
Signature: Luke S

Trapdoor Spider
Trapdoor Spider

Dear Luke,
We agree with much of what you stated, but not everything.  We do agree that this is a Mygalomorph and that it does have palps, indicating it is a male.  Where we disagree is that Mygalomorphs are uncommon in Oregon.  BugGuide has several genera of Trapdoor Spiders found in the Pacific Northwest, including
Antrodiaetus pacificus, which looks like a pretty good match considering this BugGuide posting.  We also have our doubts that you are crazy, but we cannot be entirely certain.

Letter 2 – Trapdoor Spider from Costa Rica


Subject: Spider in Costa Rica
Location: Pozos de Santa Ana, Costa Rica
May 4, 2017 7:02 pm
This spider is about the size of my thumb, and wandering about in our garage like it does not have a care in the world, or it just had its third martini. We have tarantulas, but I have not seen one (yet) with a white strip on its abdomen.
Signature: Family Pura Vida

Trapdoor Spider

Dear Family Pura Vida,
This is definitely a member of the infraorder Mygalomorphae, the group that contains primitive spiders including Tarantulas and Trapdoor Spiders.  It seems small for a Tarantula, so we are guessing this is a male Trapdoor Spider out searching for a mate.  We have an image in our archive of a male Trapdoor Spider from North Carolina with similar markings.

Trapdoor Spider

Perfect!  That is the same answer we got from a local source. Hebestatis lanthanus to be exact. We are relocating “him” from our house to a nice forest dwelling (with nice ground cover) nearby. Thank you!!!

Thanks so much for providing a species name for us.  We are linking to both FlickR and Arachids My Species that have images of Hebestatis lanthanus.

Letter 3 – Trapdoor Spider from Washington


Subject:  Usually I scream and run away like the girl I am but…
Geographic location of the bug:  Bothell, WA
Date: 05/28/2018
Time: 01:30 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I stuck around today to take pictures of this girl, I found while sweeping out a storage unit. She was under a pile of dead leaves, sticks and bird droppings. I assume she’s a she, I could be wrong but I am sure she won’t know. 🙂 I snapped a few pictures then left her alone. It’s what I would have wanted if I was a spider.
How you want your letter signed:  Perplexed In WA

Trapdoor Spider

Dear Perplexed in WA,
This Spider identification has been on our back burner since you sent it several days ago, but we have not had any luck identifying it other than that we know it is a Mygalomorph in the infraorderMygalomorphae.  Mygalomorphs are primitive spiders, and their members include Tarantulas and Trapdoor Spiders.  While Tarantulas are not found as far north as Washington, there are several different families of Mygalomorphs reported from Washington.  We have not successfully identified your Spider and we are continuing to search BugGuide.  The closest match we have found is on Insect Identification and it is identified as a member of the genus
Antrodiaetus.  We cannot confirm a species on BugGuide from the genus Antrodiaetus that matches the coloration on your individual, including the red cephalothorax and legs and darker abdomen.

Letter 4 – Trapdoor Spider in North Carolina???


Yesterday as I was walking my dog I came across this spider just closing its ‘door’ and it really gave me the chills. I haven’t seen anything like it around here before, or anywhere on the east coast for that matter. Now I haven’t really got a good look at its whole body because it seems pretty comfortable in it’s little hole. The burrow is approximatly 1 inch around and about 2-3 inches deep. I did some searching on trapdoor spiders and mouse spiders, but I haven’t found whether or not these are native to North Carolina. I’d also like to know if the spider is a threat to me or my dog. It’s fangs seem fairly big, and very strong considering it’s size. I left it alone after snapping the few pictures I did manage to get. Sorry if the pictures can’t help with an ID, but I was not about to stick my fingers in there and take it out 🙂 Thanks for any advice you can give.

Hi Dave,
Your photos are great. Your Trapdoor spider is a female, recognizeable by her shorter legs. According to Comstock, Trapdoor Spiders belong to the family Ctenizidae. Pachylomerides audouini is found in the warmer parts of the Atlantic seaboard, including, obviously, North Carolina.

Letter 5 – Wafer Lid Trapdoor Spider


Antrodiaetus found in Texas?
Location: Austin, TX
October 8, 2011 10:25 pm
This one was spotted in a patch of grass at the edge of a front yard facing a residential street. It was engaging ants (for food, perhaps). We were walking the dog when we spotted him (her?) and the dog almost ate it for breakfast. We spotted it shortly after a very light drizzle, in the midst of a Texas drought.
Signature: Alexis

Female Wafer Lid Trapdoor Spider

Good Morning Alexis,
First we want to commend you on your excellent sleuthing attempt to identify your Trapdoor Spider, however, we disagree with your genus identification.  We believe this is a Wafer Lid Trapdoor Spider in the genus
Eucteniza, based on photos posted to BugGuide.  With Trapdoor Spiders, females have shorter legs and rarely leave their burrows.  Males tend to wander, generally after a rain, in search of a mate.  We doubt if she was trying to feed upon the ants, though the ants might have been the reason she fled her burrow.  Perhaps there was enough rain to flood her out.  Prey tend to be larger creatures, including crickets and similar ground dwelling insects and arthropods.  We are very excited to have received your excellent images.

Wafer Lid Trapdoor Spider

Thank you, Daniel! We were very interested in finding out the identity of this spider because it was the largest spider we’ve seen outside of a terrarium.
I think you’re correct about the ants. They seemed to be bothering her more than she was bothering them. We have some aggressive fire ants in Texas. Perhaps the rain disturbed both of their homes.
Please feel free to add my photos to your collection. The exact location was 22nd Street and Leon Street, Austin, Texas (Travis County). Thanks again!


Letter 6 – Unknown Spider from Botswana


Quarter size black spider that looks like a Tarantula
Location: Kasane, Botswana
January 14, 2011 6:10 pm
I found a Quarter size black spider that looks like a Tarantula. My issue is that it is right by my potted plants and I don’t know if it is venomous. I love spiders but I live in the middle of know where and would not be able to seek medical attention if neccessary. Thank you.
Signature: Laura Marchitto Massie

Unknown Spider

Hi Laura,
This is a True Spider in the infraorder Araneomorphae rather than a Tarantula in the infraorder Mygalomorphae, but we do not recognize it.  Those appendages at the tip of the abdomen are quite unusual and they should aid in the identification.  We are posting your email and images and we hope to be able to provide you with an ID in the near future.

Unknown Spider

Update:  December 4, 2012
We received a set of comments disputing our identification.  Stuart Longhorn indicates that this is most likely a member of the infraorder Mygalomorphae, though not a true Tarantula.

Letter 7 – Trapdoor Spider


Funnel or Trapdoor?

Folding Door Spider

Funnel or Trapdoor?
Location: Hillsboro, Oregon
February 8, 2011 3:43 pm
I found this while sweeping outside. We home school, so any new spider we find, we scoop into a jar and try to identify it. Then we let it go.
We live in Oregon. Wasn’t sure if it was a trapdoor or funnel spider.
Signature: Arachnid Wonders

Folding Door Spider

Hi Kim,
Thanks to the multiple views you have provided, we strongly believe this is a Folding Door Spider in the genus
Antrodiaetus based on images posted to BugGuide.  There are several families of Trapdoor Spiders, and Folding Door Spiders are distinguished from the Cork-Lid Trapdoor Spiders and the Wafer-Lid Trapdoor Spiders, but BugGuide doesn’t really explain the distinguishing features.  It is nice to hear about your home schooling tactics, but we must caution you that here at What’s That Bug?, we are not experts and we do not have any formal entomological training, nor have we ever taken any college level courses in Arachnids.  We are artists who are trying to promote an understanding and appreciation of the lower beasts and their importance to the web of life on our fragile planet.  For more accurate identifications, you should seek assistance from your local natural history museum.  There is much misinformation on the internet, and our humble website is no exception.

Folding Door Spider

Letter 8 – Trapdoor Spider: Antrodiaetus pacificus


Subject: California trapdoor?
Location: Olympia,WA
January 1, 2014 7:07 pm
Howdy! I was rollerblading along a trail by my house and I saw this big guy stomping his way across the path. I skidded to a hault and he did too. Being a spider lover, I took some pictures. Afterwards I scooped him up and set him on the other side of the trail. When I got home the only thing that I could find that looks anything like him was a California trapdoor spider. I think he is quite a jog from his home, but after doing some research it appears that there have been other sightings of this spider in Washington. I love your website, and I hope the pictures help you identify the dude.
Signature: ~Marly

Trapdoor Spider
Trapdoor Spider

Hi Marly,
While this is a Trapdoor Spider, it is a different species than the California Trapdoor Spider.  We found a very good match to a female Folding Door Trapdoor Spider,
Antrodiaetus pacificus, that is posted to BugGuide.  There is no additional information on this species on BugGuide.  We believe it is unusual to find a female Trapdoor Spider roaming.  The females which are more long lived are usually sedentary, and the shorter lived males are the ones that wander in search of a mate.

Trapdoor Spider
Trapdoor Spider

Letter 9 – Trapdoor Spider found in pool filter


Subject: Southwestern Spider
Location: Phoenix Arizona Metro
January 17, 2016 7:56 pm
Somebody found this spider in a pool filter in Arizona and it doesn’t resemble anything we have seen here before.
Signature: GB

Trapdoor Spider
Trapdoor Spider

Dear GB,
We believe this Trapdoor Spider is most likely a male in the genus
Ummidia.  With winter rains, male Trapdoor Spiders wander in search of a mate a frequently fall into pools.  Compare your image, which is most likely swollen with water after drowning, to this BugGuide image.

Thank you for your response. I agree with your assessment that this critter had been submerged for a while, making it difficult to identify.
Seems ironic that a lot of humanoid males also wander into pools in search of a mate.

Letter 10 – Trapdoor Spider from Indonesia


Subject: Found in home
Location: Jakarta Indonesia
March 5, 2017 6:35 am
Hi Bugman, i found the attached picture of the spider in my outside kitchen, wondering if it was a dangerous species and if it nests nearby as i have kids and want to be sure everything is safe.
Signature: Jawad

Trapdoor Spider

Dear Jawad,
This appears to us to be a Trapdoor Spider.  We have not had any luck matching your image to a specific species.  Trapdoor Spiders are harmless and they live in underground burrows.  Females rarely leave their underground burrow, but male spiders will travel in search of a mate.

Letter 11 – Trapdoor Spider from Malaysia


Subject:  Cork Lid Trapdoor Spider?
Geographic location of the bug:  Penang, Malaysia
Date: 11/27/2017
Time: 12:09 AM EDT
My friend found a spider that looked like a trap door but could not identified it. Can bugman help?
How you want your letter signed:  mysticz

Trapdoor Spider

Dear Mysticz,
This is a gorgeous Spider.  It has such a distinctive appearance, including the red tips on the legs.  We could not locate any exact matches on the internet, but we did find this image on FlickR of a Tube Trapdoor Spider from Singapore that looks somewhat similar.  We are quite confident your individual is a Trapdoor Spider, but we are not certain to which family it belongs.  The closest visual match we could locate is a posting to Encyclopedia of Life of
Idiops constructor, a member of the family Idiopidae, which Wikipedia calls the Armored Trapdoor Spiders.

Trapdoor Spider

Thanks for the effort Daniel.

Letter 12 – Trapdoor Spider from Oregon


Subject:  what is this thing??
Geographic location of the bug:  Eugene, Oregon
Date: 12/18/2017
Time: 02:53 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  just curious what the heck this thing is. It looks scary but I did end up letting it go, unharmed.
How you want your letter signed:  chris

Trapdoor Spider

Dear Chris,
We are sorry for the long delay.  Your original request arrived while our editorial staff was away from the office for several weeks and we were never able to respond to all the emails that arrived during our absence.  This is some species of Trapdoor Spider and it looks very similar to an individual we located in our own archives that we never identified more specifically.  It looks like it is most likely
Antrodiaetus pacificus which is pictured on BugGuide and which is reported from Oregon.

Sorry about that. I found it under an old wooden deck in my backyard. It was hiding in a small tunnel dug into the dirt, like a trap door spider. I live in Eugene, Oregon and this was spotted during the summer months.

Letter 13 – Tube Trapdoor Spider


California Trapdoor Spider
Location: Somoma County CA
November 6, 2010 1:45 pm
Hi Bugman,
I found this spider on the wall next to my backdoor in the evening on November 5, 2010. I live in Southern Sonoma County in a rural area.
From your website I have identified it as a California Trapdoor Spider. Can you confirm that for me?
Signature: Gayle

Trapdoor Spider

Hi Gayle,
While we agree that this is a Trapdoor Spider, and you have indicated it was found in California, we do not believe it is a California Trapdoor Spider,
Bothriocyrtum californicum, because it does not match the photos on BugGuide.  We looked at other Trapdoor Spiders on BugGuide and it is our opinion that it more closely resembles a Tube Trapdoor Spider in the genus Calisoga.  BugGuide has many images of Tube Trapdoor Spiders in the genus Calisoga and they are all from California.

Thank you very much.  I hadn’t seen the “Tube Trapdoor” the first time around.  Thanks for the clarification.

Letter 14 – Unknown Trapdoor Spider from British Columbia


Subject: Trapdoor Species I.D
Location: South Okanagan, BC, Canada
October 8, 2013 8:34 pm
I have identified this to be a male Trapdoor Spider but am interested in getting more info with regards to the particular species. This one was very aggressive and jumpy, was hard to trap and when I put a BBQ skewer stick into the jar to get some good body pics and get him moving, the spider launched itself at it, clamped on with its fangs and would not let go.
I was able to lift his entire body up to the rim of the jar, approx 12” while he hung on with his fangs. I found the spider making its way into my house at 4:30am, he attempted to run inside once I opened the door. While trying to place a jar over him, he reared and made small charging attempts at the jar with his fangs extended. I have several more pictures if you need more to properly identify this spider. Thanks!
Signature: Luiza

Trapdoor Spider
Trapdoor Spider

Hi Luiza,
We are very late and haven’t any time to research this at this moment, but we are posting your photos and we hope to get some input from our readership today.  Your photos should be very helpful for identification purposes.

Ed. Note October 14, 2013:  This spider somewhat resembles the Wafer-Lid Trapdoor Spiders in the genus Aptostichus as pictured on BugGuide.

Trapdoor Spider
Trapdoor Spider
Trapdoor Spider
Trapdoor Spider



Letter 15 – Wafer Lid Trapdoor Spider


Friend or foe?
April 19, 2010
I found this spider in my friends pool. The match book should provide a good estimate as to its size.
Aaron Grimes
Marin County, California

Wafer Lid Trapdoor Spider

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