Saturday, January 23, 2016

Dark Fishing Spider Pitcher

Dark Fishing Spider, Dolomedes tenebrosus (Nursery Web Spider family, Pisauridae) eating a fly at the bottom of a plastic pitcher. I discovered this scene as I was placing the pitcher under an apple cider press to catch the soon to be pressed cider. I'm glad I did. Not only did I save this arachnid from a fruity deluge, but I also got to share it and my excitement with the group of kindergarten students who were with me at the time.
It is not uncommon to find Dark Fishing Spiders away from water and indoors. Fishing Spiders might be mistaken for Wolf Spiders (numerous genera in the family Lycosidae). In general you can tell it's a Fishing Spider and not a Wolf Spider by the following features:
  • they rest with their legs flat
  • all eight eyes are the same size - not easy to see without magnification in my opinion
  • egg sacs are carried at the front - not always present
Dark Fishing spiders are fairly easy to keep in a small terrarium. To set the terrarium up, I use a moss or soil substrate, with a piece of bark or some other natural object as a hiding place. I mist the terrarium every day or two, making sure there are some droplets low on the sides for drinking (a shallow dish or lid could work too). I feed small to medium-sized crickets to the spider once or twice a week. After a month or two of observation, you can always let it go back under whatever sink or damp corner you found it in, if it doesn't get away first.