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Banded Fishing Spider (Dolomedes vittatus)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Banded Fishing Spider

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Fishing Spiders are completely at home by the water where they find both typical and surprising food sources.

Updated: 01/26/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The Banded Fishing Spider is like many of its kind: large, brown, hairy, and fast. This type of spider is not known to be aggressive toward people and often flees when spotted, but the large size of females (including her legs) puts some people on edge. Males are smaller and have large pedipalps by the face along with a white border around the cephalothorax and abdomen. This white rim around the abdomen begins to stretch upward closer to the rear end. A prominent dark patch in the center of its cephalothorax helps distinguish this species from its relatives.

Fishing Spiders eat aquatic insects and they are almost always found near water habitats. Larger spiders have even eaten small fish by going into the water and catching them. A Fishing Spider can be found floating on the water's surface with all of its legs stretched out in every direction. In addition to being spotted along river, stream, and creek banks, this spider also takes shelter under covered boats and in boathouses. The size and speed of this spider may be alarming, and many a boater and angler has been surprised by one lurking in a corner.

General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Fast insect icon
Patterned insect icon
Striped or banded insect icon


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Arachnida
      Order: Araneae
        Family: Pisauridae
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          Genus: Dolomedes
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            Species: vittatus
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Dolomedes vittatus
Other Name(s): Fishing Spider
Category: Spider
Size (Adult; Length): 12mm to 75mm (0.47" to 2.95")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown; white; ivory
Descriptors: white border; band; ring; edge; dark spot on head; fast; water; big; brown; spread out

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 12mm (0.5in) and 75mm (3.0in)
Lo: 12mm
Md: 43.5mm
Hi: 75mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Banded Fishing Spider may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Banded Fishing Spider . Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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