flower-crab-spider

4

One Individual, Four Perspectives…

This is four pictures of the same spider on a single leaf of Olearia agrophylla, an Australian wet forest tree species with leaves that are glossy-green above and furry and white below. She ran around and around, over and under the leaf as I took the pictures and thoughtfully posed every now and then. She is, I think, a little flower/crab spider (Thomisidae) with spiny anterior legs for hunting and clasping prey. These and related little spiders (a few mm across) can be common on plants where they sit and patiently wait for a feed, perhaps a small fly or another tasty arthropod.

Sweet little thing isn’t she?

7

The struggle of life and death takes place on the petals of a single wildflower every day. Insects never know what’s lurking under the inviting petals until it’s too late! Goldenrod Flower Crab Spiders (Misumena Vatia) are highly aggressive hunters on the prowl. As the top photo shows, even other spiders know that it is best to clear out when the territory belongs to a crab spider. The lower sequence of photos shows the a wasp being ambushed by a crab spider. That same spider even considered making a meal of a caterpillar, but found its long protective hairs repulsive. These spiders are capable of changing their color from white to yellow over time. They can achieve this by secreting a yellow liquid pigment into the outer cell layer of the body.