Iipay Aa name: Mellykankan kwa’hwatt
Common name: Trap Door Spider
Scientific name: Bothriocyrtum californicum
Photo courtesy Davefoc.
Do you like spiders? Well, one cool spider that can be found in the Silverwood Wildlife Sanctuary is the Trap Door Spider. Trap Door Spiders, or Mellykankan kwa’hwatt in ‘Iipay Aa, have a small brown body with tiny hairs sticking out all over. They have eight legs and two appendages on their face for sensing their environment, also known as palpi. They use their palpi to sense if the prey is nearby. Their favorite meals include crickets, moths, grasshoppers, and beetles. Trap Door Spiders still need to worry about predators of their own. Birds and centipedes will eat these spiders if they have the chance. A fun fact about Trap Door Spiders is they use “trap doors” to catch prey. They build a burrow and cover the opening with a silken-hinged door. When prey is nearby, the spider will swing open the door, scoop the meal in, and shut it immediately. One adaptation they have made to build their burrows in chaparral habitat is by using rastella, or their own digging rakes, to loosen the dirt.
Similar to our beliefs about snakes, we believe that if you have been bitten by a spider you can never go into someone else’s garden or the plants will die.