Beware: These fish-eating spiders are everywhere

Fishing spider Dolomedes facetus captured fish (genus Xiphophorus) in garden pond near Brisbane,...

Fishing spider Dolomedes facetus captured fish (genus Xiphophorus) in garden pond near Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. (Photo: Peter Liley, Queensland/Handout/PLOS ONE/QMI Agency)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:28 AM ET

Spiders are known to trap insects in their webs for a meal, but a new study has found at least five different families of spiders prey on small fish.

The study, by researchers in Australia and Switzerland, found there are semi-aquatic spiders that can swim, dive and walk on the water's surface. These spiders have powerful neurotoxins and enzymes that help them kill and digest fish.

"Semi-aquatic spiders captured fish whose body length exceeded the spiders' body length - the captured fish being, on average, 2.2 times as long as the spiders," the study published in the open access journal Plos One said.

The fish-preying spiders are on all continents except Antarctica, the researchers said. They are often found in warmer climates, and in particular in the Florida wetlands and neighbouring regions. However, the study contains one report of a Toronto man who saw a spider eating fish July 1, 2008, on a dock on Shoe Lake near Dorset, Ont.


Videos

Photos