Flower (Goldenrod) Spider. (Tina Portman photo)

Flower (Goldenrod) Spider. (Tina Portman photo)

The Nature Nut

Rosamund Pojar

Wandering around the park the other day, Tina (Portman) and I found this lovely little spider hiding near a flower.

Often appearing white, but sometimes bright yellow, this is a flower (or goldenrod) crab spider (Misumena vatia). Notice its front legs are splayed out sideways like the pincers of a crab.

It can also move sideways like a crab. Males tend to wander afar looking for mates.

Females are stationary and do not spin a web, but rather hide inside flowers, or under leaves where they sit and wait. When an insect comes to the flower, she springs out and grabs it with her front legs.

This method of capturing supper is known as “ambush predation.”

Although tiny, the crab spider can prey on insects much larger than itself, such as bees, which it subdues with deadly venom.

Crab spiders can also slowly change their colour to match their background, so they harder to see. They are particularly abundant on white or yellow flowers, especially goldenrod in the late summer.

However, crab spiders may be found on pink or red flowers where they appear dark to visiting insects. Camouflage is especially important in older females as they need a large meal in order to produce offspring.

Flower crab spiders may try to bite humans, but their fangs are not powerful enough to puncture human skin plus their venom is too weak to harm large animals.


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