The Oldest Spider Ever Was 43 Years Old (Plus 3 More That Live a Long Time)

Written by Kristen Holder
Updated: December 28, 2022
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Most spiders don’t live over a year but some spiders live longer than cats and dogs. The oldest spider ever recorded was 43 years old before it died! We’ll talk about that spider, plus three more that live a long time.

Spiders live in almost all of the ecosystems on land and they also exist in aquatic environments. Every continent has spiders except Antarctica. Today, spiders are the largest predator population on earth.

So, what was the oldest spider at 43 years old? How did it die? What are three more spiders that live a long time? We’ll go over the details now.

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The Oldest Spider Ever was 43 Years Old

The oldest spider to have ever lived was a female trapdoor spider (Gaius villosus) named Number 16. She lived to be 43 years old before she was probably killed by a spider wasp. To put this in perspective, most female trapdoor spiders die by the time they’re 25 years old.

A wasp is suspected because the trap door that Number 16 had over her burrow was damaged in the same manner used by parasitic spider wasps. The wasp most likely ambushed Number 16 in her home, paralyzed her, and laid eggs in her abdomen. The subsequent larval wasp that hatched consumed Number 16 alive.

Number 16 lived in western Australia on the North Bungulla Reserve as part of a study where she was monitored by scientists. She lived in the wild in her natural habitat and her burrow was the 16th that was marked out of about 100. Her mother, Number 1, was more than 12 years old when Number 16 left the nest.

Female trapdoor spiders like Number 16 build a burrow that they live in for their entire lives. They create a silken plug that may be combined with soil or plant fragments that they use like a hinged door. When prey wanders close enough, the spider springs through the door and grabs their meal, which they drag into their home to eat.

Trapdoor spider in mud burrow, Queensland, Australia
Trapdoor spiders build individual burrows with a hinged trapdoor that helps them catch prey.


Why Do Spiders Get So Old?

Some spiders reach old age because they’re mostly sedentary and have low metabolisms. Old spiders are also lucky as they’ve avoided predation. Reptiles, mammals, birds, scorpions, and some insects are just a handful of the animals that eat spiders as a food source.

While most spiders only live for a year or so, there are exceptions. Black widows live for three years and barn funnel weavers live up to seven years. There are also a few types of spiders that live for decades.

3 More Spiders that Live a Long Time

Females are almost always the older specimen when sexes are compared in large spiders. This is the case with the longest-lived trapdoor spider ever and with some of the longest-lived tarantulas on the planet.

These three other spiders also live a long time:

Oklahoma Brown Tarantula (Aphonopelma hentzi): 40 Years

Female Oklahoma brown tarantulas live up to 40 years old. They may live longer but their complete lifecycle hasn’t been fully studied. They’re also called Texas brown tarantulas or Missouri tarantulas and also live in Louisiana, Kansas, Arkansas, and Mexico.

Like almost all tarantulas, Oklahoma brown tarantulas are large. Their legs have a span of up to five inches. They also prefer arid environments though they can also live in somewhat moist surroundings.

Aphonopelma hentzi, the Texas Brown tarantula, (also known as Oklahoma Brown tarantula or Missouri tarantula) on the pumpkin
The Oklahoma brown tarantula is one of the most common tarantula species in the Southern United States.


Mexican Redleg Tarantula (Brachypelma emilia): 35 Years

The Mexican redleg tarantula lives up to 35 years in captivity. It earned its name from the orange, red, or pink coloring below the second leg joint. It has a leg span of almost 5 inches.

This spider makes a home in the Sierra Madre Occidental foothills in Nayarit and Sinaloa, Mexico. It’s a popular pet choice because it is passive and easier to handle than other tarantula species.

Mexican redleg tarantula (Brachypelma emilia)
Female Mexican redleg tarantulas can live for decades.


Brazilian Black Tarantula (Grammostola pulchra): 30 Years

Female Brazilian black tarantulas live up to 30 years while males live a maximum of only eight years. These tarantulas live primarily in Brazil though there are also populations in Uruguay. Wet and warm grasslands with an average temperature of around 65 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal for these spiders.

Brazilian black tarantulas are very large and can reach up to 7 inches in length. Their legs are almost as thick as a human finger. In the wild, they hang out in burrows and wait for prey to come near. They’re a popular pet choice because they’re calm and slow.

Brazilian black tarantulas eat mice, crickets, roaches, and lizards. Their venom liquefies their prey, which is a form of external digestion as it makes the food easier to process when the spider consumes it. They eat 2 to 3 times per week.

Brazilian Black Tarantula
The exotic pet trade monitors their numbers and tries to regulate the export of Brazilian black tarantulas.

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What is the Oldest Fossilized Spider?

Spiders most likely started coming into existence around 400 million years ago as ground-dwelling predators creating silken sheets.

One of the oldest fossilized spiders is 165 million years old, which puts it in the middle Jurassic period. It was found in Daohugou, Inner Mongolia, China. There are much older examples of spider relatives available dating back to 380 million years ago but these proto-spiders didn’t produce complex webs.

This particular spider’s direct ancestors aren’t found in this range. Instead, they’re found in Mexico, the Caribbean, and the United States. This suggests that some spiders lived over vast ranges that have been drastically reduced over time.

Mongolarachne - Prehistoric Spider
Pair of male (left) and female (right) fossil (Mongolarachne jurassica), an extinct spider known from the Daohugou Beds, in Ningcheng County, northeastern China.

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How Old is the Oldest Fossilized Spider Web?

The oldest fossilized spider web is about 130 million years old and it’s from the Early Cretaceous period. It was discovered in Sussex, England encased in amber.

It shows that sticky webs suspended in the air were used to capture prey by certain spiders at this time. Spiders began catching flying insects as insects evolved wings. An ancestor of today’s orb-weaving spider was most likely responsible for the oldest spider web.

Orb-weaving spiders are the architects behind the famous spiraling spider webs that most people think of when spiderwebs are mentioned. They are the third biggest family of spiders and many common garden spiders from across the world are orb weavers.

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About the Author

I'm a fact-driven creative with a love of history and an eye for detail. I graduated from the University of California, Riverside in 2009 with a BA in Art History after a STEM-focused high school career. Telling a complex story with real information in a manner that's easy to digest is my talent. When I'm not writing for A-Z Animals, I'm doting on my 3 cats while I watch documentaries and listen to music in Romance languages.

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