Nature Notebook – Crab Spider

I came across a new spider species to me last week sitting on top of a yellow flower – a perfectly camouflaged crab spider.

These small deception masters use their ability to camouflage to capture prey and also to hide from predators. Named for their enlarged, crablike pair of front legs, the crab spider hides, often in flowers, and wait for their unsuspecting prey to approach. When the prey is close enough, they grab it with their strong front legs and bite down quickly. With their potent venom, these spiders can take down even a bee or wasp.

Not all crab spiders display such vibrant colors though. Some imitate bird droppings and tree bark as their defense and most of the over 200 species in the country, and over 2,000 in the world, are black and brown.

What’s really astonishing is some species can even change color over several days to blend into their background of pink, yellow, green, or white.