When it comes to spiders, I experience equal parts fascination and freak-out. So when I realized the one in the photo above was mere inches from me as I sat by the backyard pond, I had mixed feelings.
I’m new to Texas, and don’t quite know what’s venomous here, so this seemed like a good time to call upon the gods of Google. Unfortunately, 15 minutes of downloading one spider photo after another only succeeded in giving me a serious case of the spider heebies. The spider heebies are akin to how you might feel if you spent the night in the Amityville house reading ghost stories. You can tell yourself that you are not nervous, but the slightest thing will make you jump.
So it was that when I returned to the pond with my camera in hand, a falling oak leaf landed on the back of my neck, and I reacted like a startled armadillo and leapt straight into the air. (I even shrieked a little, although I don’t know what an armadillo sounds like.)
I still managed to get a somewhat blurry shot of the spider before she retreated down into the pond itself. From what I read, she can stay underwater for up to 45 minutes. Her body is covered with hydrophobic hairs (makes her sound rabid) and she breathes with what they call “book lungs” (what the heck are those?)
At any rate, I finally managed to hunt her down on Google. Yes, gentle reader, she’s a Dolomedes Triton, a.k.a. the 6-spotted Fishing Spider. I’ve named her Monet since she spends most of her time among the lily pads.