R.I.P. — Spider Number 16

Something I heard on the radio today — the world’s oldest spider’s death has been announced.  The exact date is unknown, but it was sometime in 2016.  Known to science as Number 16, this female trapdoor tarantula somehow lived an incredible 43 years.  Its home was in Western Australia’s Central Wheatbelt region and it should’ve lived five to 20 years.  Number 16 was being studied by Australian researchers because these spiders are an important part of their ecosystem and their numbers have been declining.  They are not dangerous to humans.

And she didn’t die from old age.  (The more squeamish readers may want to stop here.)  Female trapdoor spiders usually live their lives in the same burrow hole.  (Males come calling for mating, then die in the same season.)  In this case, a parasitic wasp got into her burrow.  The usual sequence of events is the wasp lays her eggs inside the spider, and the hatched larva feed on their host, consuming the spider from the inside out.

For more information, go to https://www.sciencealert.com/world-s-oldest-spider-dies-at-43-years-old-australian-trapdoor.  The photo came from this website.  Scientific research on this spider has been published in the journal Pacific Conservation Biology.

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