Giant River Spiders
Location: Downingtown, Pennsylvania
September 3, 2011 9:23 am
A friend and I went hiking and wanted to rest and sit on some big stones in the middle of the river. I saw these two long twigs resting on the rock and bent to move them, only to see that those long ”twigs” were legs belonging to a spider the size of my face. I’ve lived in PA all my life, but I have never seen a spider this big – and it wasn’t the only one. We saw a couple more in the same area. All I know is that they blended really well against the surface, there were only one or two spiders on each rock, and I didn’t see any spiders webs.
I’d like to know if they are poisonous and if they are particularly aggressive. Either way, I’m arachnophobic so I won’t be trekking through creeks and rivers again any time soon.
Signature: ”Why spider god, why?”
We absolutely love your letter and we hope we can dispel your fears. This is a Fishing Spider in the genus Dolomedes, and though we wish your photo had more detail, there is no shortage on our site of excellent images of Fishing Spiders. Fishing Spiders are large spiders that are often associated with aquatic habitats. They are capable of walking on the surface of the water and even diving beneath the water to escape predators or to capture prey, occasionally small fish, tadpoles and other aquatic creatures. Like most spiders, they have venom, but they are not considered a species that is harmful to humans. Here is what the Penn State University Entomology website has to say about Fishing Spiders: “Although a large spider such as D. tenebrosus is able to bite humans, it is a shy spider that will run from people. Bites are typically no more severe than a bee or wasp sting. Exceptions do occur for individuals who are sensitive to spider venoms.” We have never received a report from anyone that they were bitten by a Fishing Spider. These are magnificent creatures and we hope you are able to overcome your fears so that you are able to continue to enjoy the wonders of nature in Pennsylvania’s amazing streams, creeks and other bodies of water.