Confused crab spider

Spiders are cool. Take the crab spiders of Ohio, for instance (Thomisidae). They’re intriguing little guys. They’re not web weavers, these spiders. They’re passive hunters, masters of disguise. Stealthy little critters, they change color similar to chameleon lizards and blend in with their surroundings, then lie still and wait their prey to scuttle or alight nearby.

Then, when their meal is within striking distance, they pounce! They can take down prey several times larger than themselves, big insects like bees and wasps are common snacks.

A little while ago, I glanced down at the Fiberglas table next to me in the gazebo and spied a crab spider hanging on the side. Seeing how it was sporting its yellow camouflage to match it, I had to laugh. I suppose she might have found a meal there, but I still shuffled her onto a piece of paper and deposited her in the mulch by the plants. You can see her better there.

example of crab spider with yellow camouflage

The pictures were taken with my camera phone, so they’re not very good quality. I haven’t identified which specific crab spider this is, and likely won’t. I just wanted to grab some quick pictures of the spider to share.

Here’s another photo I took of one some time ago. This one was hiding beneath the bloom on one of my coneflowers (echinacea purpurea).


I love spiders, as long as they’re not crawling on me.

2 thoughts on “Confused crab spider

  1. Sorry Kim, but I cannot share in your love of spiders. I’d probably have smashed it. So nice of you to move it….. It is interesting though how they obtain their food. I wonder what chemical causes the color change in their body…..

  2. Pretty cool:

    “These spiders change color by secreting a liquid yellow pigment into the outer cell layer of the body. On a white base, this pigment is transported into lower layers, so that inner glands, filled with white guanine, become visible. If the spider dwells longer on a white plant, the yellow pigment is often excreted. It will then take the spider much longer to change to yellow, because it will have to produce the yellow pigment first. The color change is induced by visual feedback; spiders with painted eyes were found to have lost this ability.

    “The color change from white to yellow takes between 10 and 25 days, the reverse about six days. The yellow pigments have been identified as kynurenine and 3-hydroxykynurenine[2]”


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