wikiHow to Identify a Water Spider

Three Methods:Identifying a Water SpiderRecognizing Water Spider HabitatsTreating a Bite

Water spiders (Argyroneta aquatic) live underwater; they have their own “diving bell” which supplies them with oxygen. Essentially, they spin their webs on the surface of water and then collect air bubbles so that they can fill their “diving bell” from underneath the water. They need only surface once a day to get additional oxygen.


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    Know what a water spider is. Here are some key characteristics.
    • Physical features: .314” to .590” (8 to 15 mm)
    • Venomous: Yes
    • Lives in: northern and central Europe
    • Eats: This spider catches its prey under water, and kills it with a venomous bite. It feeds on aquatic insects and crustaceans.

Method 1
Identifying a Water Spider

Both males and females are light to dark yellow-brown, but they are never on the surface of the water for very long so it might be tricky to get a close-up look of them.

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    Look at the abdomen, if possible. When this spider is in the water, the abdomen has a silver sheen, much like mercury.
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    Realize that if the spider is darting in and out of the water, or sitting briefly on lily pads or other vegetation, it is most likely a water spider.
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    Look for a speckled green pattern, and sometimes, prominent green stripes on their backs.
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    Notice the legs; they are long and thin.

Method 2
Recognizing Water Spider Habitats

The water spider can be found in fresh, but not running, water.

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    Look for the water spider in ponds, lakes and streams.

Method 3
Treating a Bite

The water spider is part of the family of funnel web spiders, and is venomous, but its bite will most likely cause nothing more than inflammation and fever. You aren’t likely to get bitten unless you are swishing your hand around in the water where they live. Water spiders do have very strong fangs that can penetrate human skin; their bite can be very painful. If you are bitten by a water spider, make sure to do the following:

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    Wash the area where you were bitten with warm water and soap.
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    Rinse the soap and pat the area dry with a clean cloth.
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    Apply an antiseptic cream to the bite area.


  • Water spiders can walk on water. They have hairs on the tips of their legs that allow them to “tread” water.
  • Be patient if you are trying to observe a water spider. This spider can stay underwater for long periods of time, and when they do surface to collect air bubbles, they quickly submerge again.
  • Water spiders typically live for about 2 years, and are preyed on by fish, frogs and herons.


  • Water spiders have to live in the water; it’s not a good idea to capture them in a jar or other device, even if you supply some water for the spider.

Sources and Citations

  • Herbert and Lorna Levi, Spiders and Their Kin, (New York, NY; St. Martin’s Press 2002)
  • Lorus and Margery Milne, Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects & Spiders, (New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 1980)
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Categories: Spiders and Other Arachnids