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!


So after Etsy added that “put a picture of the artist’s face here” thing to the front page, it made me realize I don’t actually have like, a picture of myself.

So I went out to the meadow and tried to get a few shots of my ugly mug and these were the only ones I found salvageable. I was having a lot of trouble keeping a straight face.

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.

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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!


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?