Archive for the ‘crab spider’ Category

Crab spider

April 26, 2011

Whitebanded Crab spider on thistle (Misumenoides formosipes)

Not all flower visitors are insects and not all are pollinators. In fact, some are a threat to pollinators. Such is the case of spiders, crab spiders in particular. The name is very appropriate: they look and they move like crabs. They are very adept at hiding between petals and waiting patiently for prey to fall right in their clutches.

Whitebanded Crab spider hiding on goldenrods

They are not very discriminating; any flower visitor will do. Bees of many kinds, as well as flies and butterflies and even beetles fall prey to them. They are capable of overpowering creatures bigger than themselves. With their fangs they inject saliva, rich in enzymes that act the way a strong acid would, dissolving the tissues of the victim. Spiders can’t chew solids, so they take this “soup” instead.

Crab spider and prey, a small bee

A different type of crab spider and honey bee

Female crab spiders come in different colors. Usually they match well the color of the flower where they are hiding.

Goldenrod Crab spider (Misumena vatia)

It is said that they can change coloration if they move to another flower of a different color and that this change takes several days. Males are a lot smaller and have thinner abdomens. They are not seen very often.

Habitat. Sunny fields, gardens.

Season. From April to October. Practically year round in southern states.

Flowers. they prefer flat open flowers, especially in the Asteraceae family. Asters, thistles, sunflowers, goldenrods provide just the right kind of hiding places.

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