Adaptations of the Goldenrod Crab Spider

Goldenrod crab spider-Misumena vatia

The goldenrod crab spider is the most abundant of all the flower spiders. This is in part due to abilities it has acquired through adaptation.

One of these adaptations is the two sets of enlarged front legs. This allows the spider to walk sideways and backward as well as forward. It does not need to turn its back from a predator to escape. The crab spider can also use these legs to grasp its prey, paralyze it by an injection of venom and liquify and consume its meal without the bother of spinning a web to catch it.

Retreat from aerial predator

In order to actually ensnare its prey, the spider must rely on another specialization. It has the ability to change colors and blend in with the flower it is hunting from. The spider remains still and unseen, waiting to ambush an unlucky insect that choses the wrong flower to pollenate.

This color change may require several days before taking effect once the spider moves to another variety, so it prefers to hunt from a particular type of flower.

Missing legs are common among the much smaller males

A crab spider snatches a meal

This fly has so far avoided the spider










The spider’s color-changing talent is not only beneficial as a means of catching prey, it is also helpful to avoid becoming prey to predators such as birds.

The golden crab spider is just one example of the many creatures which have adapted to flourish on this earth.

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11 Responses to Adaptations of the Goldenrod Crab Spider

  1. seekraz says:

    I like “adaptation,” as it speaks to the non-supernatural essence of life. Well done, thank you.


  2. montucky says:

    Excellent series of photos of them. I see a lot of them here on wildflowers and always enjoy seeing them. We had one in residence in a flower bed a few years ago on some yellow tupils and she stayed over a month. Sure was hard to find we we wanted to see her! She spent the nights inside a flower.


  3. Finn Holding says:

    Nice post Rick. I like spiders (as you can probably guess from my Gravatar!) and photographing them is challenging but can yield great results. Really good series of shots you’ve got here. And I didn’t know that spiders have chameleon-like abilities. Fascinating stuff. Finn


  4. Nice post! You may be interested to know that your ‘wasp’ photo is actually a Dipteran mimic (fly mimicking a wasp) probably of the genus Monoceromyia.


  5. Fabulous photos, and a fascinating post! Thanks for stopping by my blog, so that I can now discover yours!


  6. Shonnie says:

    totally amazing photo’s! So glad that I found you again! 🙂


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