Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Trapdoor Spiders Make an Appearance

This New Year's Eve (or more correctly, very early New Year's Day), I came home from my festivities to find FOUR trapdoor spiders crawling along my garage door and up the side of my house.  I wonder if one of the first things I see in 2013 happens to be an emergence of cool spiders means it will be a great entomological year?

Trapdoor spiders are large spiders, that closely resemble tarantulas, but are not as hairy and not quite as large.  They are dark brown to black, and have a hairy cephalothorax and legs, but a fairly smooth abdomen.  Trapdoor spiders are native to Texas, and have a fairly far range across the US.  They are a common spider, however we don't often see them.

Trapdoor spiders build tube-like tunnels in the ground, and cap it off with door.  They feed on other insects, and pop out of their home to grab their food.  New Year's Eve Day was a relatively wet day, drizzly and pretty miserable.  During these constant wet days, we tend to see trapdoor spiders emerging - and it always seems to be males.  Males have large pedipalps that remind me to boxing gloves.

I have always assumed the weather sparks an interest in migrating to find mates OR they didn't build their trapdoor nests well enough and the rain forces them to leave their homes.  Regardless of the fact, they emerge and start wandering around, usually making their way to the house and crawling along the side of it, looking for a way in or around it.

In the San Antonio area we usually see them around mid November, but this year, they've been more active later into the year.  We can probably blame lack of wet days and warmer weather from keeping them from hunkering down.

Trapdoor spiders are not harmful - I doubt in their stressful state, they would even attempt to bite you if you picked it up.  They are not invading the house, and likely when the weather clears up they will go away.  If they bother you, sweep them away from the house.  There is no need to apply pesticides because you can never predict when they'll emerge.

On New Year's Day, when I ventured outdoors, they were completely gone.  They will eventually die, get picked off by lizards or birds, or find their way off your patio and to a new home.