Trap—Door Spider Versus the Wasp
from the book, "Petrified Lightning"

Book: 
Petrified Lightning

Trap—Door Spider Versus the Wasp

Several species of trap—door spiders protect themselves against predatory wasps by digging long, silk—lined chambers in the ground for their homes. They cover the holes with snug—fitting doors ingeniously camouflaged and carefully concealed under plants.

The female wasp who does locate the trapdoor to the underground nest knows better than to venture into the hole. She is instinctively aware that the spider would have the advantage in its dark home and would instantly kill her. Instead the wasp waits like a stalking cat in front of the hole. When the spider feels its way out, the wasp seizes it by the forelegs, swings it out in an arc, and stings it.

Many trap—door spiders provide a second exit from which to observe what the wasp is doing at the first hole. The clever wasp, however, is often prepared for this. She will insert her hind part a short way into the first hole and then hurry to the second, where she catches the emerging spider. If this fails the first time, the wasp repeats the maneuver until she succeeds.

The successful wasp injects her prey with a venom that paralyzes but does not kill. Then she drags the victim to a secluded spot and lays eggs on its still—living body. When the eggs hatch, the newborn will have fresh spider meat to feed on.