The Find-a-Spider Guide

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Tree trapdoor spider

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Migas species
(The proposed identification of this spider is as explained below)
Body length:
female: 8 mm
male: 5 mm
In a small burrow in tree ferns
The toxicity of the venom of this spider is unknown so handle this spider cautiously, although it is a relatively small mygalomorph species.
Click to enlarge
Tree trunk burrow

The identity of the spider shown on this page, which was actually found on an island just north-east of Tasmania, is based on a matching image presented by John Douglas on his Tasmanian Spiders website. In February 2019 the World Spider Catalog listed only Heteromigas dovei, Migas nitens and Migas plomleyi as being described Tasmanian migid species and on this basis the spider above is one of the latter two species, but it is likely many Australian migids are still undescribed. The World Spider Catalog listed Moggridgea rainbowi as the only Australian member of this genus (and exclusive to Kangaroo Island) plus several Western Australian Bertmainius species which may originally have been recognized as Moggridgea species. Finally, Heteromigas terraereginae was shown as a Queensland migid and Migas variapalpus as a South-east Queensland species. Therefore, since the empty burrow in an image shown on this page was found near Toowoomba, Queensland, it seems likely to have been constructed by Migas variabilis.

The most important characteristics of a Migas species are the reasonably glossy black colour, the short spinnerets and the downwards-pointing spines on the first two pairs of legs. The Migidae typically build shallow burrows either in the ground (preferably on steep, mossy soil banks) or under the bark of tree trunks. A hinged door similar to that of the Idiopidae (the true trapdoor spiders) allows the burrow to be closed and the spider typically waits just under the door for the approach of potential prey. Those species that have their burrows on tree trunks are often referred to as tree trapdoor spiders and their door is always hinged on the lower side of the burrow.

Known Range: Probably present on tree trunks in bush settings in South-east Queensland.

Spider(s) with a very similar appearance: Some members of the Heteropodidae, Nemesiidae and Idiopidae.

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Email Ron Atkinson for more information.    Last updated 5 January 2022.