Misumena vatia | ©Dietrich Meyer   (Marly, Fribourg, Switzerland)

This lovely little (9 mm) spider is Misumena vatia (Aranea - Thomisidae), commonly known as crab spider because its body is short, wide, and flattened as a crab.

Crab spiders occur all around the world, but Misumena vatia is only found in North America and Europe. In Europe the species is known as Variable crab spider, and in North America it is called the Goldenrod crab spider or Flower crab spider.


"Oh gosh I feel like I am bothering you all the time with spiders, I’m sorry HAHA! But do you have any idea what this little guy is? It’s one my friend found. I really don’t have a clue, the abdomen shape reminds me of those cat-faced orb weavers but the other characteristics don’t really match up? Any ideas? Thank you so much as always!"- starberryswirls

You are not bothering me at all!!!  I LOVE the ID practice!  Fortunately, I was able to ID this beauty immediately because I often see these Flower Crab Spiders on the wildflowers outside of my house.  Your Crab Spider may more specifically be the Goldenrod Crab Spider, Misumena vatia, here is a very close match on bugguide.  These spiders are ambush predators, they are almost invisible on the flowers they live on, patiently waiting for a pollinator to get too close.  They are often yellow or patterned but I personally have always thought the white variety was the prettiest.  Keep the submissions coming!

[Northern Washington]

Hi, Bryce!

My first guess is most likely correct, but I had to look at other genera before I could be sure. I think you have a Flower Crab Spider- Misumena vatia. There are two other genera that can look similar, but your spider most closely resembles M. vatia.

Since you recognized that she’s a crab spider, you probably already know she’s completely harmless and good to have in your garden. While the occasional bee will likely be eaten, she preys on a variety of insects and bugs that would do harm to plants.

Thanks for sharing!


Goldenrod Crab Spider (Misumena vatia)

is a species of crab spider found throughout North America. This spider can be one of two colors, yellow or white, which they can change between depending on which flower they are on. This doesn’t happen through chromatophores like most color changing animals do, this spider instead secretes a yellow pigment on the outer cell layer of the body which then gets transported to the lower cell layers so that the inner glands become visible. This spider like most is dimophic as females are two times as large a the males.



Image Sources: 1,2

Quite an interesting find!

Hey there! More spidery goodness. I found this little guy (or gal) quite a while ago. I’ve never seen anything like it around here before, so it was quite a shock to see it wandering around on the porch pillars. It was fun to photograph, though! Wondering what it could be.

Hello again! 

You found a male Misumena vatia- the flower crab spider. While the females are bigger, brighter and a greater variety of colours, the males of Misumena (and many other Thomisid families) are still striking.

All crab spiders are harmless and at least eight genera feature males and females of a variety of colours- M. vatia can even, actually change colours!

Thanks for the photos- I’ve never seen a male M. vatia in person before!

  • Misumessus oblongus (aka Flower Crab Spider).

I have one of these (exactly like the one in the picture above) in a box in my room. Found it on a tree at my aunt’s house. Can’t take a proper picture cause my camera is shit, so I googled “small yellow green spider” and discovered the name. Mary Jane (my Misumessus is called this) gave birth to another spider, but I think it’s dead. Whatever, I’m scared this thing will grow up and become a monster.

I live in willimantic Maine my husband found this lilguy on his truck though he looked weird due to only 6 legs was wondering if u could tell me what he was and if he’s harmless thank u 

Hi, Amber!

That spider is totally harmless. :) He’s a Goldenrod or Flower Crab Spider, Misumena vatia. Flower crab spiders have some of the most striking sexual dimorphism (the males and females look very different) among spiders. And though that little guy is missing some legs, he can still get along just fine. If he’s young enough, he might even be able to grow a few of them back when he molts!

Thank you for sharing!