Saturday, July 7, 2012

Misumena vatia

Warning! This post contains photos of spiders. If you are uncomfortable about that, as I used to be, I suggest you read some posts about baby cows or cats instead.

A couple of weeks ago I was inspecting the mock orange bush I'd bought for my mom a few years ago - it's one of her favourite flowers, and my grandfather had a lovely specimen growing in his yard when I was a child. I bent down to sniff a particularly lovely blossom when I noticed it was occupied!

This crab spider, sometimes called the goldenrod crab spider after the flower it normally lives in, or more accurately Misumena vatia, is a fascinating little creature. It produces a yellow pigment that it stores next to the surface of its skin, allowing it to blend in quite spectacularly with yellow petals, where it waits for its prey. However, if the spider manages to find nicer real estate on a white flower, it can get rid of its yellow pigment, reverting it to its natural white colour. It's like a chameleon spider, but with fewer colour options.

Its strategy seems pretty successful, because a few days later I checked back on it to find that it had snared a little bee.

A bit sad because I love bees, but I try to remember that spiders need to eat too! And you have to admire how this one manages to find its dinner.