Fact Check: Trapdoor Spider Is NOT Poisonous -- Only Venomous To Animal Prey

Fact Check

  • by: Kaiyah Clarke
Fact Check: Trapdoor Spider Is NOT  Poisonous -- Only Venomous To Animal Prey Human Not Prey

Is this trapdoor spider poisonous, and can it kill human beings who are stung by it "within 5 minutes"? No, that's not true: Trapdoor spiders don't produce poison, only venom to subdue prey -- which does not include humans. McGill University Natural Resource Sciences Professor Christopher Buddle calls a post "certainly false" in its claim that this spider is deadly.

The claim appeared in a Facebook post (archived here) on October 27, 2021. Above the images of a peculiar-looking spider, the caption says:

For those of you who are going to the beach . Please beware of this. Don't try to pick it up thinking it's a work of art. It's a very poisonous spider. If it stings you you will die within 5 minutes.

This is how the Facebook post looked on November 3, 2021:

Spider Claim Post Image.pngFacebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Wed November 3 23:24:21 2021 UTC)

Buddle identified the spider in a November 3, 2021, email, saying:

It's part of the family of 'trap door spiders,' many species in the group but genus is likely Ummidia

Concerning whether or not the trapdoor spider is poisonous, he said:

Wrong terminology! The correct question is 'is it venomous' since spiders aren't generally poisonous

It is venomous to its prey, so yes it has venom suited to subdue it prey, but it's prey is not humans!

So, it's not a species 'of medical importance' to humans

Specifically, whether or not a human being could "die within 5 minutes" of being stung by a trapdoor spider, he said:

It would probably hurt quite a bit, but for a healthy person, reaction is likely minimal, perhaps local swelling and some pain. (Note: I'm not a medical doctor)

In my thinking, the only bite/sting from an arthropod (insect or spider) that might result in such a rapid reaction is perhaps if someone is allergic to wasp/bee stings i.e., anaphylactic reaction. But that's an insect thing, not a spider thing ...

The images belong to photographer Nicky Bay, who has clarified information about this particular spider since 2019.

The images in this post display a logo with his name and the year when the photo was most likely captured. A Yandex reverse image search using the keywords "Nicky Bay" reveal a February 26, 2020, tweet in which Bay shares the photos and debunks falsehoods about his shots and the spider -- again.

More information about the Ctenizidae trapdoor spider can be found here.

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  Kaiyah Clarke

Kaiyah Clarke is a fact-checker at Lead Stories. She is a graduate of Florida A&M University with a B.S. in Broadcast Journalism and is currently pursuing an M.S. in Journalism. When she is not fact-checking or researching counter-narratives in society, she is often found reading a book on the New York Times Bestseller List.

Read more about or contact Kaiyah Clarke

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