If the prospect of a spider that catches fish wasn’t scary enough, the fishing spider is disturbingly well-adapted to its task. This includes walking on water, as well as breathing underneath it as it stalks its prey.Dolomedes is a genus of large spiders of the family Pisauridae. They are also known as fishing spiders, raft spiders, dock spiders or wharf spiders.
image credit: Smithsonian Channel
Almost all Dolomedes species are semi-aquatic, with the exception of the tree-dwelling D. albineus of the southwestern United States. Many species have a striking pale stripe down each side of the body.
They hunt by waiting at the edge of a pool or stream, then when they detect the ripples from prey, they run across the surface to subdue it using their foremost legs, which are tipped with small claws; like other spiders they then inject venom with their hollow jaws to kill and digest the prey.
They mainly eat insects, but some larger species are able to catch small fish. They can also climb beneath the water, when they become encased in a silvery film of air. Six-spotted spiders can also walk on water to get their prey. Dolomedes is derived from the Greek word “dolomed” which means wily, deceitful.