08 Apr

With eight long legs, rows of eyes and a pair of venomous fangs, spiders have caused their fair share of nightmares. They creep, crawl, and cause even the bravest to make a dash for a rolled up newspaper. Spiders can be found in nearly every habitat and on every continent except Antarctica. All species of spider are predatory, excelling at stalking and catching prey. From amazing webs, to sneaky trap doors, spiders are ingenuity at its finest.

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Fishing spiders

Jesus may have walked on water, but spiders did it first. Meet the fishing spider from the genus Dolomedes. It can run, walk, and even stand still on the surface of water. Small hydrophobic hairs repel moisture and increase surface tension, enabling the spider to walk as easily on water as it can on land. Dolomedes doesn’t stop at the surface though, it can also breathe underwater. The spider surrounds itself with a bubble of air and can walk on the bottom of ponds and streams. When it needs to escape, Dolomedes releases its underwater grip and floats upwards. When the bubble of air reaches the surface, the spider emerges completely dry.

How can a spider catch fish?

Though they eat mainly insects, its diet can include larger prey. As its name implies, the fishing spider does indeed catch fish. It doesn’t use webbing like its common cousins. Instead of using a web, Dolomedes uses water. It spreads its long legs out upon the surface, allowing numerous hairs on its feet to begin transmitting data. The spider can determine the size and position of prey and predators from vibrations. When it senses the movement of a small fish or the erratic struggling of an insect, the fishing spider goes into action. Dashing across the water at full speed, Dolomedes can snatch the insect or fish before they even know what happened. In order to control its full speed run, the fishing spider uses its web like a dragline, enabling it to stop or turn with ease.

In the characteristic way of spiders, Dolomedes uses its large fangs to inject protein digesting enzymes and venom into its prey and waits. After a few minutes, the insides of the prey have turned into a soupy broth. The fishing spider, then bites a second time and sucks the insides dry.

Is it safe to go swimming?

Keep reading before you throw your swimming suit in the trash. Very few species of spider are poisonous to humans. A bite from Dolomedes has about the same effect as a bee sting. In addition, the fishing spider is shy. It will always try to escape a threat long before it bites.

What are spiders good for?

Though they can be nightmarish and terrifying, spiders can be beneficial to humans. A single Arachnid (a fancy word for spider) eats approximately 2,000 insects in its lifetime. That’s a lot of flies, mosquitoes, and other pesky insects. This might not spare them a swat from a newspaper when they invade our homes, or a call to the exterminator, but their ingenuity can be admired (especially if they stay outside).

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