Most people probably assume that small arthropods don’t live long lives. Of course, arthropods comprise the vast majority of all animal species currently on earth, and their lifespans vary dramatically. The general lifespan of a spider covers a greater period of time than the general lifespan of an insect. House spider species vary in lifespan depending on the species, but house spider lifespans range from 2 to 7 years in length. Tarantulas are notable for having the longest lifespan of any arachnid group. For example, the lifespan of trapdoor spiders ranges between 20 and 30 years. Sadly, the oldest arachnid in documented history died during April of last year.
The longest living arachnid on record is a trapdoor spider of the Giaus villosus species. This is the only species of spider currently within the Giaus genus and they are native to Australia and are notable for being large and for having particularly durable exoskeletons. Not only did this spider tragically die as recently as last spring, but this record-breaking spider specimen was brutally murdered by a wasp before the spider’s carcass was ultimately consumed by wasp larvae. This legendary spider species was named number 16, as this was its label while it had been included in a study of trapdoor spiders several decades ago. Amazingly, number 16 managed to live until the age of 43, and it probably could have survived for a much longer amount of time had it not been killed by a predatory wasp.
Number 16 was last seen alive in 2016 when researchers checked its burrow. However, during the last visit, researchers found that a parasitic wasp had kidnapped number 16 from its burrow, leading the research team to safely assume that number 16 surely had to be dead by the time they arrived.
Have you ever seen a trapdoor spider before?