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Something is lurking in the dark, waiting. A tremor is felt…something approaching. The dark thing waits patiently, quietly. Closer and closer are the tremors. Its nearly here! Suddenly the dark thing leaps from its hiding place. The hapless prey too slow to get away. It is doomed, doomed. Welcome to the trapdoor spider.

This specimen is something right out of a Saturday afternoon horror movie. It builds a small tunnel lined with silk and then creates a camouflaged door, hinged on the back and seals tightly. It senses its prey by vibration and strikes with astonishing speed.

The female stays near her tunnel all her life and oddly enough allows males to approach close enough to breed. She lays her eggs in the tunnel and will feed the spiderlings with her excess catch until they are old enough to go find their own pad.

But just when you thought it was unsafe to go traipsing around the garden, you must know that the trapdoor spider has cause to fear. In the food chain, for all its cleverness, its is not on top. Certain species of wasp have developed the bad habit that would give James Cameron shudders. In their exuberance to propagate, these wasps will hunt out the trapdoor spider (and other large arachnids).

When successful, their sting will incapacitate the spider and allow the wasp to lay an egg in the spiders abdomen. The wasp then either drags the still living, but paralyzed spider back to its lair, or lets it go. The lair-bound spiders are buried alive until such time as the wasp larva hatches and eats all the tasty bits from the spider. It then pupates and go a-hunting itself. The spiders let free go about their daily regime until, they too, meet their untimely fate from being eaten from within.

Wikipedia article—Trapdoor spider
Wikipedia article—Tarantula Hawk
Up Close and Personal with the Trapdoor Spider