Bug of the Week

Six-Spotted Fishing Spider (Family Pisauridae)


Hi, BugFans,

This beautiful spider (probably Dolomedes triton) was photographed at Riveredge Nature Center’s vernal pond. A spider of ponds and slow-moving streams east of the Great Plains, this gal (Mr. Fishing Spider is considerably smaller and has a slimmer abdomen) stalks around on the duckweed, alga, Riccia (an aquatic liverwort) and even the surface film of the water. It eats aquatic insects and, occasionally, tadpoles and tiny fish. It is itself, fish food.

Six-spotted Fishing spider watching a school class watching a six-spotted fishing spider.
Six-spotted Fishing spider watching a school class watching a six-spotted fishing spider.

Fishing Spiders are Nursery web spiders (Family Pisauridae), and they are often mistaken for wolf spiders. They use web to enclose their egg cases, but not to catch their prey. The female will carry her egg case around and will stay with it until the spiderlings have hatched and dispersed.

Some fishing spiders dive under water, their bodies coated with a film of air bubbles, and they can stay there for a long time. There are about a dozen species north of the Rio Grande; this body of this one was about an inch long. Its name does not come from the 12 white spots on its abdomen, but from the six black spots found at the base of the legs.

The BugLady