Fishing spiders appearing across the state

A fishing spider sits on a dock near Lakewood

LAKEWOOD - The largest spider in Wisconsin, the fishing spider, is making more and more appearances across the state.

"This is the big spider we've had hanging out all summer," said Ben Vande Velden, De Pere.

At nearly three inches across, Vande Velden says it's one of the biggest spiders he's ever seen.

"If we come down here, and we're not too noisy, he's always kind of sitting on the dock, like he's trying to catch some sun," said Vande Velden.

Vande Velden says he took a picture about a week and a half ago at his parent's cabin near Lakewood. Since then,

"Yeah, just recently, she had a bunch of babies," he said.

The Department of Natural Resources says dark fishing spiders are appearing across the state.

"In most years, I'll get two or three reports, or I will find one or two myself. This year, I've gotten a few more additional reports than normal. I don't know why that is, perhaps the spider population is up, and perhaps people are just noticing them more," said Linda Williams, DNR Forest Health Specialist.

Williams says the fishing spiders are not poisonous, and are very skiddish around people. The DNR says a fishing spider doesn't spin a web to catch its prey. It uses more of an ambush technique to capture insects, and more.

"They can also walk on water, and they can grab very small fish, very small, not big ones. They can grab tadpoles, and eat them as well," said Williams.

During our visit Monday, the adult fishing spider stayed away. Several inch-long spiderlings scurried around the dock.

And while many people will still fear spiders, Williams says the arachnids play an important role in the area ecology.

Vande Velden agrees.

"We have our friends come down here occasionally, and they're scared to death of them. But once you get used to them living down here, they're kind of like your dockside friends, If you're brave enough anyway," said Vande Velden.

The spiders will start to hibernate in a couple of months. The Vande Velden's say they expect they the spiders to be back in May.