Capturing trapdoor spiders using tethered beetles

Wednesday, 01 July 2015

Smith V R, Vink C J, Cruickshank RH, Paterson AM. 2015. Beetling: a method for capturing trapdoor spiders (Idiopidae) using tethered beetles. Arachnology 16: 294–297.

Tethered beetle

A tethered beetle is used to lure trapdoor spiders from their burrows

A novel method has been developed to capture trapdoor spiders (Idiopidae) using a beetle tethered by a length of cotton. This method has been used successfully to capture New Zealand trapdoor spiders (Cantuaria spp.) from localities around New Zealand.

Collecting trapdoor spiders (Idiopidae) for research is difficult due to their deep, convoluted burrows and almost entirely fossorial life history. Digging idiopids out of their burrows is laborious, disturbs the environment, and can only be undertaken in open areas with soft soil. Here we describe “beetling”: a quicker, easier method of capturing idiopids, using tethered beetles to lure the spiders from their burrows. Beetling was used to capture 123 individual Cantuaria spp. (Idiopidae) out of a total of 130 successfully throughout New Zealand during March–June, September, November, and December. We conclude that beetling is an effective method for the live capture of idiopids, despite some limitations such as the need to work at night, and to culture live beetles, but they are outweighed by the advantages of having a reliable, efficient method of capturing live spiders. Beetling could also be used to catch other fossorial invertebrates, such as lycosids and carabid larvae.

See the paper here.