Fishing Spiders…nowhere near fish or water?
Hello Lisa and Daniel,
I’ll start by saying that you run a wonderful site, because although I know you get a lot of complimentory emails, you deserve many, many more. I’ve always loved bugs, mostly because my dad loved them, and I remember whole afternoons spent hunting for them with him, with the wonders and discoveries that I thought only a child could experience when seeing some strange multi-legged thing for the first time. Your site has proved me wrong, however, as I find myself browsing your images and explanations for whole afternoons…and loving every minute of it. What a wealth of information! I’m here every time I find a bug I’ve never seen, and then I stay even after identifying it because I know there are many more I haven’t seen in here. So first, KUDOS!
Now second. I’ve attached two pictures of what I believe to be ‘fishing spiders’, or at least spiders of the Dolomedes genus. We get these every year, and when I say these, I mean spiders galore, in the basement. And they are BIG! They don’t really bother me, I think they’re pretty cool actually, but I’m wondering about one thing: I live in Québec, Canada, and nowhere near water. I’m in the city and although there are woods behind the house, there is no pond, or stagnant water pool, or anything. Yet every year, they ‘appear’, full grown – I’ve never even seen spiderlings. One day there’s nothing, and the next, they’re everywhere. They don’t travel upstairs, but I find them more often than not in the litter box. Well camouflaged, too, I don’t see them until I scoop them up… So I guess my question is: are they really fishing spiders? Or are they something else? And if they are, what are they eating in my basement? And how do they get there?? The ones in the pictures are about the size of a credit card, but we’ve gotten bigger ones. I tend to release them in the wilderness, because although their venom might not be very strong, I have four cats and would not want spiders as part of their diet. My husband thinks they come up through the drain…Is that even possible? Anyway, I know you’re pretty busy with a lot of emails, and you might not get to answer me quickly – or at all, but I thought you might like the pictures for the site – although you have a lot of them already. In any case, thanks for all the great work, it really is appreciated!
Your kind letter just made our day. This is a Dolomedes species, the genus of spiders commonly called Fishing Spiders. Not all species, nor even all individuals are found near water. Dolomedes albineus is arboreal. The nearby woods are probably responsible for your spider population. At any rate, basements and cellars are generally damp dark places, and that is an ideal habitat for many spiders. They might be eating one another and they are probably doing a very good job of keeping your home free of other less desireable visitors. We suspect this is Dolomedes tenebrosus, which according to Wikipedia, exhibits female giganticism.