Trapdoor Spiders and Their Diet: What You Need to Know

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 and other invertebrates that wander near their burrows. Their diet can include a variety of insects like crickets, beetles, and cockroaches. Occasionally, they may even capture small vertebrates such as lizards or frogs if the opportunity arises.

To catch their prey, trapdoor spiders use their lightning-fast reflexes and sharp, powerful fangs. They’ll remain hidden in their burrow, with their specialized door-like camouflage, only revealing themselves when a suitable meal crosses their path. This allows them to ambush unsuspecting insects and bring them down in an instant.

Trapdoor Spiders: An Overview

Trapdoor spiders belong to the infraorder Mygalomorphae and can be found in various families. These fascinating creatures are known for their unique appearance and behavior.

Their most distinct feature is their set of 8 eyes which are arranged in two rows on the front of their cephalothorax. Additionally, these spiders are often well-camouflaged, allowing them to blend in with their surroundings. For example, some species have earthy brown hues, making them nearly invisible in their natural habitats.

Trapdoor spiders earned their name from their exceptional hunting strategy. They live in silk-lined, underground burrows with a hinged door made out of soil, silk, and plant materials. This door remains closed when the spider is inside, hidden from potential predators. When prey passes by, the spider quickly opens the door, captures the prey, and drags it back into the burrow.

These fascinating arachnids primarily feed on insects and other small invertebrates, such as crickets, beetles, and ants. Their diet and hunting habits contribute to their ecological role as both predator and prey in their respective ecosystems.

In summary, trapdoor spiders are fascinating creatures with unique appearances and hunting strategies. They play an important role in their ecosystems by maintaining the balance between predator and prey. Don’t be fooled by their camouflaged appearance; these spiders are truly extraordinary in their own right.

Habitat and Distribution

Trapdoor spiders can be found in a variety of habitats, such as:

  • Australia
  • Europe
  • Southwestern United States
  • Japan
  • South America

These spiders prefer both tropical and temperate regions, allowing for a wider distribution. Their habitats may include forests, grasslands, and even suburban areas.

Trapdoor spiders are known for their burrows, which are silk-lined and located underground. These burrows provide shelter and hunting grounds for the spiders. A notable example is the California trapdoor spider, which resides in the southwestern United States.

Here is a comparison table of the different habitats and distribution of trapdoor spiders:

Region Preferred Habitat Distribution
Australia Forests, grasslands Widespread
Europe Forests, grasslands Widespread
Southwestern U.S. Forests, grasslands, California
suburban areas trapdoor spider
Japan Forests, grasslands Widespread
South America Tropical regions Widespread

Overall, the habitat and distribution of trapdoor spiders vary greatly, making them versatile occupants of the natural world.

Feeding Habits of Trapdoor Spiders

Trapdoor spiders are fascinating creatures with unique feeding habits. These spiders are carnivorous, meaning they primarily eat other animals for sustenance. You would typically find them preying on insects and small vertebrates.

These agile spiders target various types of prey which may include crickets, grasshoppers, and small fish. A key advantage they have is their excellent hunting skills. They do not rely on their webs to catch food but instead build silk-lined underground burrows.

Specifically, trapdoor spiders use their burrows to ambush unsuspecting prey, thanks to their ability to move quickly. The name “trapdoor spider” comes from the door-like structure they create using their silk, which helps conceal their burrow entrance. As soon as a meal is available, these spiders pounce on the opportunity and capture their prey.

In summary:

  • Trapdoor spiders are carnivores.
  • Their diet includes insects and small vertebrates.
  • Prey examples: crickets, grasshoppers, and small fish.
  • Hunting method: Ambush from silk-lined burrows.

Remember to marvel at these extraordinary creatures and their intriguing feeding habits next time you come across a trapdoor spider. They truly are a wonder of the arthropod world.

Mating and Reproduction

In the world of trapdoor spiders, reproduction is a fascinating process. When it comes to mating, males seek out females by detecting their pheromones. When a male finds a female’s burrow, he taps on the silk doors to signal his intentions1. If the female is receptive, she will allow the male to enter her burrow, where mating takes place.

After a successful mating, the female lays a batch of several hundred eggs2. During this time, the female plays an important role in caring for the young spiderlings. She provides them with food and protection over their first winter, ensuring their survival and growth2. As they reach maturity, the spiderlings leave their mother’s burrow to build their own homes and start their individual lives.

While trapdoor spiders generally have a successful reproductive process, they face certain challenges. For instance, these spiders may fall victim to parasitic wasps or small mammals that dig up the burrows and eat the spiders2. Despite this, trapdoor spiders continue to thrive in various parts of the world, thanks to their unique burrow-dwelling lifestyle and fascinating reproductive behavior.

Defense Mechanisms

Trapdoor spiders have several defense mechanisms to protect themselves from predators and to aid in their hunting. One such mechanism is their camouflage. These spiders live in silk-lined burrows that are covered by a trapdoor. The trapdoor blends seamlessly with their surroundings, making it almost invisible to predators and prey.

When faced with a threat, trapdoor spiders rely on their fangs and legs to defend themselves. Their fangs are sharp and powerful, allowing them to deliver a painful, venomous bite. If you ever come in contact with a trapdoor spider, it’s essential to be cautious, as their bite may cause pain and swelling.

While not all species have this feature, some trapdoor spiders also have hairs on their body. These hairs can act as an additional defense mechanism, as they can be kicked off when the spider is threatened – potentially irritating a predator’s skin, eyes, or respiratory system.

Lastly, trapdoor spiders are not known for building traditional webs for capturing prey. However, some species may use a silk thread to secure their trapdoor, providing an early alert system to any potential prey or predators that might approach their burrow.

To summarize:

  • Trapdoor spiders use camouflage to hide their burrows.
  • They have sharp fangs and powerful legs for defense.
  • Some species have hairs that can irritate predators.
  • They may use silk threads near their burrow for early alerts.

Interactions with Other Species

Trapdoor spiders, belonging to the genus Ummidia, are known to have interactions with a range of other species in their ecosystem. With approximately 50 species of trapdoor spiders across the United States, these interactions may vary depending on the specific species and their habitat.

As predators, they primarily feed on various invertebrates such as insects, scorpions, centipedes, and millipedes. They catch their prey using their strong, sharp fangs. Trapdoor spiders are also known to consume smaller vertebrates like frogs and mice if the opportunity arises.

However, trapdoor spiders are not without their own set of predators. Birds are one of their main natural enemies, as they can easily spot them and snatch them up in their beaks. Baby birds are especially likely to come across trapdoor spiders, as they forage for food near the spider’s burrow.

Invertebrate predators, such as wasps, parasitic wasps, and flies, pose a major threat to trapdoor spiders as well. Some species of wasps are capable of paralyzing the spider with their stings, allowing them to lay their eggs on or inside the spider’s body. As the eggs hatch, the wasp larvae feed on the still-living spider.

Trapdoor spiders need to remain vigilant as mammals, such as raccoons, opossums, and even larger mammals, can also pose a threat by digging up and eating these spiders.

In summary, trapdoor spiders interact with a diverse set of species, both as predators and prey. They face several challenges in their environment, including avoiding or defending against various predators. These interactions play a significant role in shaping the ecosystem and maintaining a balance in the food chain.

Trapdoor Spiders and Humans

When it comes to trapdoor spiders, they are not typically considered to be aggressive towards humans. However, as with many spiders, if they feel threatened, they may defend themselves by biting. A bite from a trapdoor spider can cause local pain but is not considered seriously venomous to humans1.

In some cases, people might find these spiders intriguing and choose to keep them as exotic pets. Trapdoor spiders have adapted to various environments and sometimes live near human habitats. Despite their proximity to humans, these arachnids are mainly focused on their diet, which consists of insects that they capture in their silk-lined underground burrows2.


  • Trapdoor spiders are beneficial in controlling insect populations
  • Their bites are not seriously venomous to humans


  • They might be a source of discomfort for individuals with arachnophobia
  • Some people might find them less appealing as pets due to their hidden lifestyle

In conclusion, trapdoor spiders may not be the first choice for many exotic pet enthusiasts, but they do play an important role in controlling insect populations around human habitats. While they may bite if they feel threatened, their bites are generally not harmful to humans, making them relatively low-risk neighbors.

Interesting Facts

In the world of spiders, trapdoor spiders stand out due to their unique hunting style and fascinating features. As a mygalomorph, these spiders are closely related to tarantulas and are known for their impressive burrow construction.

Their burrows are made of silk, strategically lined with a camouflaged door – hence the name “trapdoor.” These tunnels serve as a habitat, allowing the spider to ambush unsuspecting prey. Did you know that they possess special sensory organs, called spinnerets, on their abdomen? These spinnerets not only help in constructing their famous tunnels but also detect the vibrations caused by the approaching prey.

Let’s dive into more fascinating facts about these remarkable arachnids:

  • Scientific Classification: Trapdoor spiders belong to the family Ctenizidae, with the most speciose genus being Ummidia, consisting of approximately 50 species.
  • Appearance: These spiders have robust bodies, large chelicerae (fangs), and a distinct separation between their cephalothorax and abdomen.

Now, let’s take a closer look at their hunting technique. The trapdoor spider patiently waits in its burrow with the door slightly open. When an unsuspecting victim approaches, it springs into action, grabbing the prey within a lightning-fast movement. Their prey usually consists of various insects and even small vertebrates.

To make things more interesting, there’s a comparison between trapdoor spiders and other common spiders, such as the araneida (orb-weaving spiders):

Feature Trapdoor Spider Araneida (Orb-weaver)
Hunting Technique Ambush-style using a camouflaged burrow door Catches prey using intricately woven webs
Web Construction Silk-lined burrows with a door Spiral, wheel-shaped webs
Prey Types Insects and small vertebrates Insects, usually flying ones

We hope this section has given you insights into the remarkable world of trapdoor spiders and their unique characteristics. Remember to always approach these creatures with curiosity and respect for their contribution to our ecosystem.

Trapdoor Spider Families and Species

There are several families of trapdoor spiders. Some of these include:

  • Ctenizidae
  • Actinopodidae
  • Migidae
  • Antrodiaetidae
  • Barychelidae
  • Cyrtaucheniidae
  • Halonoproctidae
  • Idiopidae
  • Nemesiidae

These spiders are known for their unique hunting style. They live in silk-lined burrows and create a trapdoor-like lid to catch their prey.

For example, the brown trapdoor spider belongs to the Ctenizidae family. They build burrows with well-hidden doors that blend into the environment. Another species, the funnel-web spider, belongs to the Atrax family and is closely related to trapdoor spiders.

To make your understanding of these spiders easier, here’s a comparison table of some species:

Species Family Appearance and Characteristics
Brown Trapdoor Spider Ctenizidae Large, brown, with trapdoor-style burrow
Funnel-web Spider Atrax Dark, glossy, with funnel-shaped webs
Sigillate Trapdoor Spider Idiopidae Flat, shield-shaped abdominal markings
Brown Trapdoor Spiders Various Brown, with characteristics similar to other trapdoor spider species

One key aspect to keep in mind is that male trapdoor spiders are typically more mobile than their female counterparts. They wander in search of mates during breeding seasons.

When trying to identify trapdoor spiders, look for features such as:

  • Large, stocky bodies
  • Short, strong legs
  • Cryptic coloration for camouflage

Remember that these spiders have a unique hunting technique, using their burrows and trapdoor-like lids to catch prey. Stay curious and explore the fascinating world of trapdoor spiders!

Conservation and Ecology

Trapdoor spiders are fascinating creatures with unique behavioral and ecological traits. They are primarily nocturnal hunters, which means they are most active during the night. Since they are timid creatures, they usually avoid any confrontation with larger animals or humans.

The ecology of trapdoor spiders involves living in silk-lined, underground burrows found across the United States, especially in sandy areas where it’s easier for them to dig and maintain their burrows. These silk-lined burrows not only provide the spiders with a safe hiding place but also serve as their hunting ground.

As for their diet, trapdoor spiders predominantly consume insects, which they catch through a unique hunting strategy. They patiently wait at the entrance of their burrow, with only their front legs visible, ready to pounce on any prey that comes close.

  • Some key features of trapdoor spiders include:
    • Nocturnal behavior
    • Timidity
    • Living in silk-lined burrows
    • Unique hunting strategy

Trapdoor spiders play an important role in the ecosystem by controlling insect populations. However, their habitat and survival are threatened due to human activities such as urbanization, deforestation, and climate change.

To protect these fascinating creatures, it’s crucial to raise awareness about their conservation and support ongoing research efforts, such as studies on their systematics and biology. By understanding their ecology and promoting conservation efforts, you can help ensure the survival of trapdoor spiders and the fascinating roles they play in our ecosystems.


  1. Trapdoor Spider | Arthropod Museum – University of Arkansas 2
  2. California trapdoor spider, Bothriocyrtum californicum 2 3 4


  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

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  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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5 thoughts on “Trapdoor Spiders and Their Diet: What You Need to Know”

  1. I found a spider just like this one in Louisville back in 2009 on the side of my mom’s house. It definitely looks like a trapdoor spider, but I didn’t know they even existed in KY. It is a very interesting spider to say the least. I kept mine for a while before it died. My kids loved watching it jump out of it’s burro to grab food. Great picture.

    • According to BugGuide, several families of Trapdoor Spiders range in Kentucky. Folding Door Spiders have been reported from surrounding states of Ohio, Indiana and Tennessee according to BugGuide, and Cork Lid Spiders have been reported from Kentucky on BugGuide.

  2. what a coincidence, spreading lime on a remote cemetery in a wooded setting and I came upon an unusual site. one of the stones in the cemetery had several red baby spiders climbing up a string of web. the web string ran down from the stone and along the surface of the ground about 14 feet away and ended at a quarter size flap in the ground. I raised the flap to find a shiny black ominous looking spider again about the size of a quarter. its main body was like a hard shell and obvious fangs. I never knew we had trap door spiders in ky. I definitely would not want to expierence a bite from this spider. specimen found in Clinton county ky.


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