Warning: Frog-lovers Look Away, Do Not Proceed Any Further
I was chasing tiny young Blanchard's Cricket Frogs, Acris crepitans blanchardi with the kids. There were hundreds of them about and it was such fun trying to catch them by coralling them and coaxing them into a net. One was bounding along and disappeared into a clump of Soft Rush, Juncus effusus. (Note: we let all the frogs go at the end of the day.)
When I parted the rush, I found this big mama, a gianormous Six-Spotted Fishing Spider! I instantly was distracted and forgot all about the frog. How could one think of frogs with this thing around. It was huge! The kids rallied around me to check out the monster. Then I noticed that the spider was eating something... and it wasn't a bug.
It was the frog! It had captured the tiny amphibian and was having a froggy milkshake! Spiders eat by injecting venom into their prey. The venom paralyzes the victim and also digests its innards. Then they slurp the tasty beverage up like a soccer mom does an iced frappuccino from Starbucks!
I had read that Fishing Spiders will devour fish, tadpoles and frogs. Before now, I had only personally seen them eat insects. Six-Spotted Fishing Spiders, Dolomedes triton, have an amazing adaptation that allows them to float on the water. They have a waxy coating on their legs that repels water. They can float using water tension, but also have a rowing motion and a gallop that mimics the Jesus Lizards' when they need to grab prey quickly. This fascinating article explains the physics behind their bizarre locomotion. They also will hide allow the edge of the water in wait of prey. They use the element of surprise to overtake their quarry. Nature never ceases to amaze!