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Shudder with each millimeter of these hamster-sized arachnids found in Wisconsin.

Look up a picture of a “fishing spider,” a Dolomedes tenebrosus, and your body will shudder with each millimeter of its legspan. On average, that’s either 50 or 90 mm (depending on gender), a distinction that’s quickly lost when you’re holding one of these hamster-sized arachnids in your hand. Fishing spiders prey on crickets and even tadpoles through aggressive hunting and ambush tactics, when they’re not terrifying boaters or inducing a collective tremble on social media. But experts say bites are rare and hurt no more than a bee sting. “Let them be,” says Linda Williams, a forest health specialist for the Wisconsin DNR who says there’s no evidence that populations are growing. “They eat insects that aren’t native, and that’s beneficial.”

‘Daddy Long Legs’ appears in the September 2015 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

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