Crab Spiders

When I was little, I couldn’t abide spiders.  I couldn’t even bear to look at a picture of a spider in a book.  Certain (big hairy) spiders still have that effect on me.  Still, I’ve learned to appreciate their beauty and complexity.

Crab Spider on Oxeye Daisy

Crab Spider on Queen Anne's LaceThe common name “Crab Spider” comes from the fact that the spider looks somewhat crab-like, and/or the fact that it can move like a crab – frontwards, backwards, or sideways.  There are several species given this common name and they fall into a handful of spider families.  One common feature is leg length; the front two pairs are quite a bit longer than the back two.

Crab Spiders don’t make webs, nor do they wrap their prey in silk.  Instead, they lay quite still and ambush insects that come too close.  Several species are colored so that they can hide on flowers to await pollinators such as bees, flies, and butterflies.  With strong venom, they can paralyze prey bigger than they.

Gary Dodson of Ball State University discovered that males of the species Misumenoides formosipes drink flower nectar.  He is devising a study to try to find out if nectar gives the males an advantage in fighting or mating success.  Fascinating.

Crab Spider on Clover

Most Crab Spiders live only one summer season, laying eggs which will overwinter.

Learn more:


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11 thoughts on “Crab Spiders

  1. That white spider is quite pretty. I will have to look for these. My daughters all have spider phobias (why??! I do not know) Your pictures are so good.

  2. These are really cool little fellows! Two summers ago we had a yellow one here who looked just like the y one in your photo. He lived on some yellow tulips and matched their shade exactly. We’ve looked for more each year since but haven’t found a one.

  3. I am one of those with a spider phobia…but I am slowing overcoming some of that fear. Just in the past year I have been able to be around them without “freaking out”.

    Your shots are Fabulous of these crab spiders!!

  4. The yellow one is very nice. It is amazing why so many people are afraid of the big hairy spiders. It’s the little ones that can crawl into your shoes without you knowing that get ya.

  5. Arachnophobia — or fear of spiders is surprisingly common–so much so it makes you wonder if we have an innate fear, since all of them have venom and some can kill if not make a nasty wound . Or it a learned fear ?? Your lovely post should do much to dispel that fear. Nice piece with fine photos.

  6. Your pictures are awesome and vibrant (even though I do NOT like spiders). The details/sharpness is unbelieveable!
    Glad you had fun camping; I got a kick out of Maddie’s journal comments :). Interesting posts. I would like to take a canoe ride right now on the nice, calm water, just like in your photo.

  7. I have seen these spiders before but did not know they were called crab spiders. Thanks for the information and the lovely photos.

    Your posts are always so informative.

  8. Pingback: Not a very well read fly… « A Passion for Nature

  9. Jennifer, I simply couldn’t resist telling you how very much I like your site! I write a children’s book series called “Where’s that BUG?”, similar to Where’s Waldo only the real world, y’see. I want the kids to learn something!!! I hope you will have a chance to see the site. Our photo styles are similar. Great stuff! You can see it at http://www.wheresthatbug.com. Let’s get these kids appreciating our beautiful world!

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