New Jersey Field Office
Northeast Region

How's this for a big spider?!

Beth Ciuzio of our Partners Program recently photographed this female dark fishing spider near the shores of the Pequest River. She was guarding her "nursery web" in which she had two big egg cases.

dark fishing spider

Have you ever heard of fishing spiders? Some of the species in this genus actually catch and eat small fish--hence the name. The dark fishing spider pictured here isn't as adept as some other fishing spiders at walking on water, so you probably won't find it eating fish for supper. This one's scientific name is Dolomedes tenebrosus. Because they're not as comfortable on water as some of their cousins, dark fishing spiders can sometimes be found far away from rivers, streams, or ponds.

Fishing spiders are covered in hairs that don't get wet and trap air. They use water's surface tension to walk out on it as if it were a web, and if they need to they can actually dive under the water. They can breathe the air trapped by their hairs, and when they come up to the surface again, they're not even wet! Diving is one trick they use to catch fish, of course. But they often eat water insects that also walk on the surface. They track their prey by sensing movement on the water, just as other spiders do on their webs.

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Last updated: August 16, 2011
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