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Bristly, Huge Spider, Some Red - Dolomedes vittatus - female

Bristly, Huge Spider, Some Red - Dolomedes vittatus - Female
Upshur County, West Virginia, USA
May 25, 2004
This huge spider lived near a shallow pond near my house. I didn't notice the red until I saw the pictures. The bristles on its legs were pretty impressive.

eye arrangement
This image is being used in the eye arrangement article, thanks!

to page.
The other two species in your area are scriptus and triton.

Thanks, Jeff. Just for my own education, how were you able to determine D. vittatus as opposed to D. tenebrosus?

far as I know, there are no records of tenebrosus from that area, just the three mentioned above.
The overall plain brown coloration and and well defined black spot behind the eyes would suggest vittatus over the other two.

I'm no spider expert, not by a long shot. I do notice, looking at the BugGuide range map (under the Data tab) D. tenebrosus is reported on BugGuide from West Virginia twice, and once or several times from four out of the five states that touch West Virginia. Of course, it is possible some of those are misidentified!

catch. So that makes it four species.
It is recorded in north eastern WV. Are the images you refer to from that area?

Just a reminder: just because the guide data maps show the state, it doesn't mean that species occurs throughout the state.

Jeff wrote: Just a reminder: just because the guide data maps show the state, it doesn't mean that species occurs throughout the state.

That's why I usually check West Virginia's five contiguous states. If it is in most or all of those, I figure it is a safe bet it is found in most of West Virginia. In the case of D. tenebrosus it is on the BugGuide range map for PA, MD, VA, and KY but not OH.


Jeff wrote: It is recorded in north eastern WV. Are the images you refer to from that area?


I am in north-central West Virginia.

Of course, BugGuide's range maps can be wrong if the species IDs are wrong, and this may be one of those genera where ID errors have crept into BugGuide, I don't know.

Dolomedes spp.
This is definitely a female Dolomedes spp. fishing spider (verified by ID-Key, step 12b, click on images of Dolomedes for better view), and I would go as far as to say D. tenebrosus or D. scriptus due to coloration. Would need a different angle (from above, showing the abdomen and carapace) to guess which species... :)

Thanks, Christopher!
Ah, I knew someone would come through, and two days shy of the photo's one year anniversary of posting!

Thanks, Chris, getting it to species is a big help for me.

I did go back to my original files but it appears I was having so much fun photographing the "face" I never thought to take a dorsal view.

Thanks again for your help!


Stephen Cresswell
Buckhannon, WV

If I had to guess...
If I had to guess, I would say Dolomedes tenebrosus.

From what I understand (which is subject to error since I am not an expert), the D. scriptus typically has a "yellowish" striping over the lateral posterior eyes (furthest right and left eye on the top row) that travels toward the midline of the carapace, and I couldn't tell with any certainty if it was there or not, but I would say it is not there. (I have attached two images for comparison to show what I am trying to describe).

Also for D. scriptus, there are (typically) two characteristics on the abdomen:

    + a distinct "completed" looping pattern on the anterior portion of the abdomen, whereas the D. tenebrosus is not complete, but is open (the open end facing toward the carapace).

    + some "W" shapes moving down the abdomen that are highlighted with a light tan/white on the posterior portions of each "W" .

I can't see the looping or the "W"s, so I would guess D. tenebrosus based on the lack of carapace striping.

These are just characteristics to look for in trying to determine the species, but are not always obvious, especially depending on the image (lighting, position, clarity, etc.), so the "100% certainty" method is to examine the genitalia...

D. tenebrosus

D.scriptus (suspected)

Hope this helps... (By the way, great image!! The Dolomedes spp. spiders are currently one of my favorites!) :)

Thanks, Christopher
Thanks, Christopher, I learned a lot reading this!


Stephen Cresswell
Buckhannon, WV

Dolomedes spp.
Network issues... this should not have posted. It was a duplicate of below prior to a few modifications... DOH!

Spider photo
What a fantastic photo!

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