Water Spider Click to enlarge image
Water Spiders (Family Pisauridae), Image: Densey Clyne
© Densey Clyne

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    aquatica
    Genus
    Argyroneta
    Family
    Dictynidae
  • Size Range
    Total length can exceed 12 cm

Identification

Water spiders have eight very long thin legs and lots of tiny hairs all over their body. Sometimes they have prominent stripes and a speckled green pattern. Their total length with legs can exceed 12 cm.

Habitat

Water spiders live near ponds, lakes and slow-running streams. They can be seen hunting on the water's surface and sometimes even under the water.

Distribution

They are found Australia-wide and will live along the coasts.



Feeding and diet

Water spiders eat insects, small fish and tadpoles.

Life history cycle

Water spiders are arachnids like all spiders, mites and scorpions. They have three stages in their life cycle: egg - spiderling - adult.

Breeding behaviours

When water spiders breed, the females build nursery webs in plants on the banks of ponds and streams . These webs are made of sheets of silk and have a tent-like structure.

Predators

Frogs, herons, lizards and large fish are some of the animals that like to eat water spiders.

Other behaviours and adaptations

Water spiders breathe out of the water by drawing air into special breathing tubes (called spiracles) in their bodies. In the water, air is trapped in the hairs surrounding their spiracles. Water spiders can stay under the water for about one hour. These spiders can walk on water. The hairs on the tips of their legs let them tread on the water without breaking the surface tension.


Giant Water spider
Giant Water spider, Megadolmedes australianus Image: Abram Powell
© ¬©Australian Museum