Can Spiders Swim? Surprising Facts

It is pretty easy for us to assume that spiders don’t like water at all, maybe we can blame that famous nursery rhyme for making us think that the rain washes away the spider that was climbing the water spout, making it look defeated, but we were wrong.

There’s a common misconception that spiders can’t swim. But the truth is, some spiders can actually swim quite well! 

This is because some species of spiders have hydrophobic setae on their legs, which repel water and help the spider to float. In fact, some spiders even build their webs near ponds and streams.

Some people may be surprised to learn that many species of spiders can survive in water for extended periods of time, and some even hunt their prey underwater. If you’re curious to know more about spider swimming, keep reading!

spider standing on water

How Do Spiders Swim?

Spiders that live in or near water are specially adapted to swimming. They have hydrophobic setae, which are tiny hairs that repel water and help keep the spider dry.

Some of these spiders also have special adaptations that help them breathe underwater.

Other spiders, like the fishing spider (Dolomedes spp.), are also able to breathe underwater. They have book lungs, which are a type of respiratory system that uses thin layers of tissue to absorb oxygen from the water.

So, now we know that not all spiders are afraid of water, but what about swimming? Can all spiders swim? The answer is no. While some spiders are excellent swimmers, some cannot swim at all. In fact, some spiders will drown if they fall into the water.

How To Differentiate Swimming Spiders Vs. Non-swimming Spiders

There are a few ways to tell if a spider can swim or not. One is to look at the legs. Spiders that can swim have longer legs in proportion to their bodies than spiders that can’t swim. This helps them paddle through the water.

Another way to tell if a spider can swim is by looking at the eyes. Spiders that can swim have eyes that are closer together than spiders that can’t swim. This helps them see underwater.

But even with these features, it is still tricky to distinguish which ones swim or not by basing on these characteristics, so it is always better to do further research or best to reach out to spider experts to make sure you won’t misrecognize these eight-legged creatures.

Common Types of Swimming Spiders

There are many different types of spiders that can swim. Here are some of the common species and what to know about them:

Diving Bell Spider

Also known as the European garden spider, this spider is found in Europe and North America. It builds a web that fills with air and uses like a diving bell to breathe underwater.

Fishing Spiders

These spiders are found worldwide and can grow to be quite large. They hunt by sitting on the water’s surface and waiting for prey to come close. They dive under the water and grab it with their legs when they see potential.

Nursery Web Spiders

These spiders are found in Europe, Asia, and North America. They build their webs near water and enjoy the dampness of their surroundings. They also dive into the water to catch prey.

Water Spiders

These spiders are found in Europe and North America. They live most of their lives underwater and build air bubbles around their abdomens to breathe.

Related Articles: Are Spiders Blind or Are They Deaf?

Swimming Spiders As Pets

It is not common to have swimming spiders as pets. Spiders that swim are usually found out in the wild and almost never indoors as their nature includes hunting for food and requires a vast area to explore.

Interestingly, there are very few people who consider fishing spiders as helpful pets on their farms. They keep them to help the ecological balance in an ecosystem.

fishing spider swimming

Fishing spiders (Dolomedes spp.) is the largest member of the genus and can grow up to two inches in length.

These spiders are found near water and can often be seen running on the surface of ponds and streams, catching fish, plankton, and other small marine creatures.

While the fishing spider is not dangerous to humans, it is important to be careful when handling any type of spider. If you are unsure of the species, it is best to leave it alone and never to take them indoors at all.

Dangers Of Swimming Spiders

Most spiders that can swim are not venomous, but there are a few exceptions. The black widow spider (Latrodectus spp.) is a type of widow spider that can be found near water.

These spiders are black with a red hourglass shape on their abdomens. Black widows are considered to be the most venomous spiders in North America.

black widow spider on a tree

While they are not aggressive, black widows will bite if they feel threatened. These bites can be painful and may cause nausea, abdominal pain, and muscle cramps.

In severe cases, black widow bites can be fatal. If you think you have been bitten by a black widow spider, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.

The brown widow spider (Latrodectus geometricus) is another venomous spider that can swim. These spiders are brown or tan and also have an hourglass-shaped mark on their abdomens. Brown widow spiders are found in tropical and subtropical areas.

Should You Avoid Swimming Spiders? How to Avoid Them

Swimming spiders, despite their name, are also land crawlers. They wander on land from time to time, so encounters with them are pretty common. Here are some ways to help you safe from swimming spiders:

When Camping Near Body Of Water

Be sure to wear long pants and long sleeves to lessen your skin exposure. It is also helpful to apply insect repellants to the exposed areas. It also helps if you inspect your gear before you use it. Spiders may be hiding in tents, sleeping bags, and other gear. Additionally, be careful when handling firewood as they love hiding in the wood.

When Swimming

Be sure to check the area for spiders before you get in. You can research or ask locals in the area to be sure. Wear swim shoes to protect your feet from getting bitten. Inspect your towel and clothing before you put them on. Spiders may be hiding in them.

When Working Near Water

Wear long pants and long sleeves to protect your skin. Be sure to wear gloves and use tools that have long handles. This will help you avoid getting bitten.

Inspect your equipment before you use it. Having farm pets such as cats and dogs is also a great way to keep those spiders away from you.

When Indoors

Check water tanks and containers, especially if you live in an area prone to infestations. If you often see swimming spiders in your tub, it’s best to seek professional services to check out webs and egg sacs to prevent further infestations.

Final Thoughts

Some spiders are known to be excellent swimmers, while others cannot swim at all. Those who can swim have special adaptations that allow them to do so, such as long legs or hydrophobic hair.

Now we know that many species of spiders can actually swim and live underwater, it is easier to co-exist with them (or stay away from them). Just be sure to take the necessary precautions.

when you are near them. It is better to leave it alone or leave it to the professionals. These tiny creatures can be adorable or terrifying. Better be informed and ready.