Just in case you’ve been, you know, living under a rock or in some heathen country, Saturday March 18th is National Fishing Spider Day, the Dolomedes of March, as it were. Traditionally, this is celebrated with Oysters Rockefeller and Tahitian Treat, but go with whatever you feel is appropriate – on our end, it’ll probably be Three Musketeers bars and grilled cheese sandwiches (not together, you idiot.) We’ll start off, trite as it sounds, with a recital of “Inky Dinky Spider,” but then go a little more progressive and play a round or two of thumb wrestling and, later in the evening, tell all our favorite arachnid stories from years past. Low key, I know, but there’s such a thing as getting too wrapped up in a minor holiday.
Prepared as ever, I have a nice image to illustrate the holiday, but this one deserves an even closer look [you should see a doctor about that cough.] Seen above is a six-spotted fishing spider (Dolomedes triton) which was foraging on an expanse of flooded lawn when the pond nearby had overflowed with heavy rains, and no small specimen at that; if memory serves, it was probably a little less than 20mm in body length alone, which would put its full leg span at about the size of your palm. It was not, however, the only one to be seen that evening, or even the only one in the frame.
Zooming in on the same image, we can see that the main subject is working on a meal, part of the reason I could get in so close without spooking it off, and that meal is almost certainly another fishing spider, judging from the shape of the abdomen and the other leg visible beneath. Spiders do not hesitate to consume other spiders, including their own species – the name of the game is survival, and competition, ready food sources, and genetic heritage are all factors in the game. The other spider being so much smaller would mean not only that it was not a sibling, but also not of potential as a mate, and thus a rival for both food and genetic line. So it goes.
But don’t let me hog the whole post. Tell us all in the comments what you’re planning for National Fishing Spider Day – traditional, or something new? Having friends over? Doing some barbecue? We’d love to hear the variety of ways people will be spending this day!