Fishing spiders found in Iowa - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Fishing spiders found in Iowa

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A female fishing spider guards her egg sac. Courtesy: Wisconsin DNR A female fishing spider guards her egg sac. Courtesy: Wisconsin DNR

Wildlife officials say a lot of people are reporting sightings of a large type of spider called a fishing spider.

It gets its name from its ability to float on water and eat small minnows and tadpoles.

The fishing spider has received a lot of attention lately, after the Wisconsin DNR posted a picture of a fishing spider to its Facebook timeline and the post went viral.

Dubuque County naturalist Jenny Ammon said she has seen fishing spiders along Catfish Creek in Dubuque County.

"The fishing spider is huge, so your first impression is, 'Oh!' You know, kind of 'Wow'-factor," Ammon said. "They're very large."

Even though fishing spiders are big and creepy, Ammon said, they're a valuable part of the ecosystem.

"They have the ability to eat small minnows, which is kind of an astounding little fact, but they're also part of that food chain," Ammon said. "Our fish, bluegills, love to eat spiders, so the whole full-circle thing comes into play."

Fishing spiders are also food for some birds and raccoons. Plus, in addition to minnows and tadpoles, the spiders eat other insects, helping control the pest population.

Ammon said the spiders don't have enough venom to hurt people.

Ammon said fishing spiders like living by bodies of water and typically won't be found indoors, unless somebody lives near water.

PJ Liesch is manager of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's insect diagnostic lab. He said spiders are more afraid of people than people should be of them and that spiders won't go after humans unless a person is threatening a spider's egg sac.

He said the biggest reason why more people seem to be spotting fishing spiders this year is simply awareness. More people than ever before have smart phones and can easily share photos.

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