Fishing spiders are among the largest-bodied spiders in the northeast United States, and while their name suggests a preference for an aquatic habitat, not all fishing spider species dwell near bodies of water. In fact, some species seem to prefer indoor habitats, particularly residential homes. For example, the most commonly sighted species in the northeast, “the dark fishing spider,” is found in residential homes just as often as it is found outdoors. The vast majority of outdoor sightings occur near homes, so if you have never found a dark fishing spider specimen within your home, that does not mean that they are not there.
Fishing spiders belong to the Dolomedes genus, and with the exception of a few species, these spiders are aptly named for their habit of catching small fish and aquatic insects while traveling over the surface of water. Their ability to capture small fish for feeding purposes should give you an idea as to how large these spiders can become. The dark fishing spider female grows to become more than an inch in body length, and its leg span exceeds three inches. Therefore, the dark fishing spider rivals the Carolina wolf spider in body size, and the two species are often confused with one another.
The dark fishing spider prefers to dwell within wooded areas as opposed to aquatic environments, and they are notable for their ability to crawl to the top of trees where they can access ventilation points leading into attics. Naturally, homes that are located near wooded areas often become inhabited by dark fishing spiders, but luckily, their bites are not considered to be medically significant, but some serious allergic reactions have been documented following their bites. Dark fishing spider eggs sacs contain over 1,000 eggs, which explains their large population size within households.
Have you ever spotted what you believe may have been a dark fishing spider within or around your home?