Six-spotted Fishing Spider

Dolomedes triton

Copyright, John White

The Six-spotted Fishing Spider is one of our most common aquatic spiders. It is fairy large, up to 2 1/2 inches long, including its legs. Females are larger than males.

This spider is easy to identify, since it has a greenish-brown body with two white stripes on the front section (cephalothorax) of its body, and 12 white spots on its rear section (abdomen). Underneath the abdomen, it has 6 black spots.

Six-spotted Fishing Spiders like places with shallow, quiet water, including marshes, ponds, and slow-moving streams. They are ususally found on shore, on plants, or on the surface of the water.

Fishing spiders are interesting, because they are one of the few animals that can "walk" on water. They actually have several ways of moving on, or underneath, the surface, including: walking/running, rowing, gliding, and diving.

Copyright, Giff Beaton

Suter, R. B., and Horatio Wildman

Besides walking on the surface of the water, Six-spotted Fishing Spiders can walk underwater as they climb down a plant leaf or stem below the surface.

To row, the spider uses some of its legs like oars in a rowboat to push itself across the surface.

To glide, the spider remains still and lets itself get pushed across the surface by wind.

To dive, the fishing spider traps a bubble of air in its legs so it can breathe underwater. Six-spotted Fishing Spiders can stay underwater for over half an hour.

Fishing spiders can jump straight up from the water to escape a predator, or dive below. Of course, they can travel very quickly on land as well. Six-spotted Fishing Spiders will always be found where there are lots of plants, both in the water and on the shore, so they can hide from predators and ambush prey.

Suter, R. B., and Horatio Wildman

Suter, R. B., and Horatio Wildman

Copyright, Troy Bartlett

Six-spotted Fishing Spiders, like most spiders, eat lots of insects. Because of their great abilities, they have a lot of choices. They can hunt on land, on the water's surface, or below. Their meals are often terrestrial (land) insects which fall in the water and can't escape, but they eat aquatic insects too.

Fishing spiders also attack larger prey, such as small fish, frogs, tadpoles, or newts. They do not build webs.

Female spiders will even it males of their own species. Males have to be careful when approaching a female to mate. If she has already mated, she will not hesitate to eat him.

Copyright, Herschel Raney

Mark Moran

After mating, the female spider spins a silk sac to carry her eggs. She then carries her egg sac in her jaws to a safe place, where she makes a shelter from leaves. The mother spider stays and guards her eggs, and even sticks around until the spiderlings (baby spiders) are ready to go off on their own.

Egg sacs are produced between June and September. Young spiders overwinter twice before they are ready to mate as adults. Adult spiders have excellent vision to see either prey or predators. Predators include large frogs, fish, and birds.

Six-spotted Fishing Spiders are diurnal, meaning they are most active during the day.

Copyright, John White

Additional Media

Six-spotted Fishing Spider "Rowing"
Link to Video
Suter, R. B. and Horatio Wildman
Six-spotted Fishing Spider Jumping
Link to Video
Suter, R. B. and Horatio Wildman

Relationships in Nature:

Crane Fly


Arrow Arum

Common Whitetail

Yellow Perch

Lizard's Tail

Eastern Dobsonfly

Largemouth Bass

Yellow Pond Lily

Northern Caddis Fly

Channel Catfish

Greater Bladderwort

Field Cricket

Creek Chub


True Katydid

Great Blue Heron


Honey Bee


Pennsylvania Smartweed

Wood Frog

Southern Leopard Frog

Common Cattail

Spring Peeper

Common Snapping Turtle

Common Reed

Southern Leopard Frog

Black Crappie

Tussock Sedge

Eastern Mosquitofish

Six-spotted Fishing Spider

Black Willow

Creek Chub


Golden Shiner

Common Duckweed


Green Algae

Eastern Newt


Ebony Jewelwing

Long-leaf Pondweed

Green Stinkbug

Swamp Rose Mallow

Giant Willow Aphid

Spotted Jewelweed

Blue Bottle Fly

Six-spotted Fishing Spider

Relationship to Humans:

Like all spiders, Six-spotted Fishing Spiders are very helpful to people, since they control insect populations, including mosquitos and other pests. They will bite to defend themselves, but are not considered dangerous.


Dolomedes triton


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