The spotted fishing spider lives in aquatic habitats and can run across the surface of water. This long-legged, dark-colored water spider is also distinctive in that the oval abdomen is smaller than the broad carapace (“head”). A pale, whitish-yellow stripe surrounds the dark carapace and sometimes also the abdomen. Viewed from above, several pairs of small, distinct white spots run down the length of the dark brown abdomen. Apparently, the common name “six-spotted fishing spider” comes from six distinct dark spots on this spider's rarely seen sternum (the underside of the carapace). The legs are robust and brown, dotted with white hairs. This spider runs quickly.
Habitat and Conservation
In addition to the many fish that eat them, birds, amphibians, and reptiles also catch fishing spiders. The bullfrog is a chief predator. These (and many other spiders) are also stung and collected by certain wasps, which provision their nests with the comatose spiders to provide food for their larvae.
One especially interesting predator of fishing spiders (Dolomedes spp.) is a blue-black spider wasp called Anoplius depressipes. This wasp has specialized flattened front feet that are fringed with hairs, which allow it to walk on water just like its prey. When transporting a spider, the wasp grasps the spider with its middle or hind legs, faces forward, then extends its forelegs and uses them like water skis while it propels itself and its prey across the top of the water, beating its wings. This spider wasp sometimes dives down into water to chase its prey, since water spiders often swim underwater when frightened.