Dock Spiders Everywhere!

15 Aug 2020 Wildlife Stories

Dock spiders get their name due to their preference for living between and underneath the boards of the cottage dock. However, Canada’s largest spiders are expanding their territory around the cabin.

Dock spider habitat

Dock spiders will search out prey wherever it might be abundant. As a result, it isn’t a surprise to find the big furry spiders with their menacing fangs hanging around the sheds, outhouse, and gazebo.

We even had a huge dock spider hanging out in the cottage one summer.

Generally, the largest dock spiders always seem to be around the dock. Maybe that’s the best hunting territory and the smaller dock spiders have to find the next best location when searching for a home.

Dock spider babies

Dock spiders produce massive egg sacs that contain hundreds of baby spiders. I had the unfortunate experience of accidentally plunging my hand into one of the dock spider nests a few years ago when I reached out to grab the boat line at the dock.

Fortunately, the mother dock spider didn’t bite my fingers.

The female dock spider carries the egg sac in her fangs and pedipalps until she finds a suitable place to cover it with a protective web while she waits for the baby dock spiders to hatch.

She then hangs around to guard the nest once the hundreds of babies emerge from the egg sac until they head off to explore the world around the cottage.

Dock spider size

Female dock spider are much larger than the males. The ladies are normally the big ones we see around the dock. They can grow to be more than three inches long and would cover the palm of your hand when all the legs and fangs are included.

Dock spider bite

Dock spider have long fangs and powerful pedipalps that look like mandibles. They are capable of catching minnows and small insects.

Unless a person tries to grab a dock spider it is unlikely the spider will bite. Dock spiders are not known for aggressive behaviour towards people. In fact, they tend to move to safety when the egg sac and nest are disturbed.

That said, I wouldn’t want to see how painful a dock spider bite could be and whether or not there would be a nasty reaction to the bite.

Dock spiders use venom to paralyze their prey. According to scientists, the poison wouldn’t be strong enough to significantly harm a person, unless the victim has an allergy to the spider venom.

by Andrew Walker

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