I guess the old saying holds true "When it rains....it pours!"
When trying to decide what to write about in this post I kept coming back to one of my favorite creatures in the garden and that is the crab spider. The name sure fits my mood lately! These spiders helped me overcome my arachnophobia and cured my life long fear of eight-legged creatures. These are small, unassuming, almost comical spiders that rest on flower blooms waiting to ambush unsuspecting insects. Like most spiders their life begins in the spring after emerging from the egg sac their mother so lovingly formed the previous fall. They will be impossibly tiny and often go unnoticed among the flowers for many weeks. As they eat and grow we begin to spot their curious-looking little bodies sitting motionless among the foliage and flowers as if they have all day to just hang around.
(A juvenile crab spider hidden inside a red tulip--photo taken in April)
There are many different species of crab spiders, but the majority of the ones you will find in Missouri will be flower crab spiders. They get their common name from their preference for hanging out in flower blossoms. This is a perfect adaptation...what better place to hang out when seeking your food of choice....insects? We all know insects are attracted to flowers, so these guys go where the source is and wait for a passing meal to come. They won't have to wait long, and with such a ready supply of food they grow quickly and generally reach adult size by the first of August.
They aren't picky about their diet, any six or eight legged creature will do.
As the following pictures will show.
(This tiny crab spider caught and devoured this much larger flower fly)
(Flies must be tasty)
(Here a crab spider found a tawny-edged skipper to her liking)
(This one is dining on a red Admiral Butterfly, talk about eyes bigger than your belly...geesh!)
Many crab Spiders participate in Olympic sports...like pole vaulting...just look at this form and grace!
Crab spiders are expert hunters, and often capture and consume prey much larger than themselves. They are not known to bite and are excellent spiders to handle. They come in a wide array of colors from brown to pink and white. I am constantly on the look out for these spiders among the flowers. This time of year they are most noticeable because they have attained their full adult size and will usually be seen with some sort of prey protruding from their front fangs.