I’m An Underwater Wonder! (The Diving Spider)

Argyoneta Aquatica (Diving Spider)

You aren’t likely to see much of me, because I spend most of my life under water.

Besides, I’m very small, only about 10 mm (less than half an inch). But I think I’m pretty special, thanks to my very wonderful Designer. Let me tell you a little about myself, and see if you don’t think so, too!

What makes me so special? Aren’t there a lot of creatures that live under water? You are right, but most have a mechanism such as gills to take air from the water. I breathe air, just like you do, and I doubt that you have built many underwater houses. You think I’m not supposed to live underwater? Well, I’ll have to tell you that it’s just right for me. Yes, I actually live, eat, and raise my family under water.

Why? All I can say is, my Creator designed me this way.

Let me explain. I’ll begin with my house. I live in a very comfortable, well-ventilated underwater house. Do I shop for my house? No, I build my own, every inch of it. I even make my own materials. And I provide my own special ventilating system. You don’t understand?

I begin by spinning a web and attaching it firmly to the stems of some plants that grow in the shallow waters near the edge of a pond. That’s standard stuff for a spider, only mine is under the surface of the water. Then I keep spinning, until I have a little sheet of thick silk. I attach the corners of the sheet to my web and to the stems and leaves of the water plants in such a way that it forms a canopy, or bubble, just below the surface of the water.

There I have it—my very own under water “diving bell,” just right for me and my family to live in.

My next task is to get ventilation into my home because, after all, I do breathe air.

How do I ventilate my house? Here I have to say my Creator was thinking before I came along. He designed me with very special long, fine hairs on my back legs that are able to attach air to my body. Sound impossible? Not for me! I simply go to the surface of the water, lie on my back, with my legs just above the surface of the water and “catch” the air on the hairs on my legs and body. Then I return to my house and use my legs to release the air into my diving bell. I do this again and again, until my diving bell is filled with air.

Yes, it works! You don’t understand the process? I won’t try to explain—you’ll never be able to duplicate it anyway!

To refresh the supply of oxygen, I rely largely on the plants that hold my bubble in place—that’s why I fastened my bubble to them. They are leafy plants, and the leaves release oxygen right into my home! Unique, isn’t it? But I can’t take credit for it. Again I thank my wonderful Designer!

I must also tell you how I get my food. My diving bell is my home and also my secret watchtower. I keep a close watch, and when an unfortunate pond creature swims nearby, if it’s a nice juicy insect, or a tadpole, or a little fish, I sprint out and seize it (I’m a really good swimmer). Instantly I kill it with my poisonous bite, so it is easy to drag it back into my diving bell. Then I enjoy the feast!

So what do you think? Spiders are not “supposed” to live under water? Maybe not, but since my Designer made me as He did, it suits me just fine.

I could tell you a whole lot more about what my Designer did for me, but you need to learn about Him yourself. Besides, I’m really busy. And right now, I’d like to see a tasty little minnow swim by. There is one coming! Ssssswiiiiiishhhh!

For scientific data in this article we are indebted to:
Argynoetidae:Submitted by Pedro Cardoso
Ed Nieuwenhuys, 02 May, 1998
Schütz, D. & M. Taborsky. 2003.