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Water and Spiders do Mix!

by Martin Overton

Most of us are aware of a few spiders that live in or under water, for those of you not yet acquainted with these spiders this article can be a quick introduction to these fascinating creatures. But, the fun doesn't stop there.... read on, dear friend, surprises await!

When most of us think of water-spiders, we tend to think of the 'Water Spider (Argyroneta aquatica)' known for it's diving bell of air and it's appetite for fish, tadpoles and other unfortunate pond life that gets within its reach.

This is a unique spider that lives underwater. A grey-brown spider with a hairy abdomen that it uses to trap air with, to add to it diving bell beneath the surface of the water. This spider eats, sleeps mates and raises a family in this little home in the water.

Let's look at a few other spiders that also seem to be fond of water ....

Fishing Spider (Dolomedes fimbriatus)

This is a beautiful spider, dark brown with a pair of cream/white lines running along the edges of its carapace and abdomen. This spider is also known as the Raft or Swamp spider, but it doesn't build a raft, but detects the movement of it's prey by resting its front legs on the surface of the water. It catches small fish and drags them up on to the bank to devour them at its leisure.

Pirate Spider (Pirata piraticus)

With a name like this you would expect it to sail the seven seas and cause havoc! This is a semi-aquatic species which spends a good deal of time under the water. (Obviously a submarine pirate!)

This spider looks very much like a wolf or other hunting spider but it builds a tube to live in which goes beneath the surface of the water, where it hides if disturbed.

Then there is the most mysterious semi-marine spider (Desis) that inhabits rock pools on tropical shores. It is said that this spider can survive for days under the sea, without an air-bubble and no diving bell to retreat to. Scientists are baffled how it achieves this remarkable feat, and also how it remains unaffected by the salt without any adaptations!

Tarantulas Olympics.....
You may be surprised to find that many tarantulas are good swimmers, indeed a number of rainforest species seem to be very at home in the water. They use their hairy legs to support themselves and propel themselves at a respectable speed across the surface until they can make landfall once more.

So now you know why you find Tegenaria sp. in the bath, they want to have a swim ;-)

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