When residents find unrecognizable arthropods of concern within their home, they may capture a specimen before sending it to university entomologists or extension professionals in order to have the species accurately identified. If university or extension authorities receive a species of medical and/or economic importance, they will usually contact the concerned resident in order to provide pertinent information concerning the species. Unsurprisingly, spiders account for a significant number of the arthropods that residents send to experts, as residents frequently mistake harmless spider species with dangerous species, like black widows and the brown recluse. In the northeast, the dark fishing spider is one of the most common spider species that university entomologists and extension service employees receive from residents.
The hairy dark fishing spider female is around 1 inch in body length and more than 3 inches long when accounting for leg span. Since many people assume that large and hairy spiders must be dangerous, it is not surprising that residents frequently send the dark fishing spider to experts. Dark fishing spiders are associated with water bodies and wooded areas, but they are able to travel long distances away from these habitats. Due to their habit of constantly moving in search of insect prey, dark fishing spiders often wind up inside of homes, and they are commonly encountered in basements, kitchens and bedrooms.
According to an online survey, around half of the 271 dark fishing spider sightings documented by citizen scientists occurred within homes. In addition to frequently wandering around homes during the warmer months, dark fishing spiders are also known for hibernating in homes during the winter season. These spiders are shy around humans, but they will bite in defense or when they are mishandled. While most bites are not any more harmful than a bee sting, some individuals who are sensitive to spider venoms may require medical intervention after sustaining a bite. This is not surprising, as a recent study has found that dark fishing spider venom contains proteins that are also found in brown recluse spider venom.
Have you ever encountered a dark fishing spider within your home?