I accidentally discovered this tiny predator when I processed a shot of a lilac in 2007 and found one lurking amid the florets, with a raindrop on her leg (see last image on this page). Intrigued, I began to search for more and have taken many crab spider shots since then. The rather unpleasant mating habit of the females, whereby they tend to ingest their lovers after a brief affair, seems harsh. I suppose there are worse ways to die, though! That could also be the reason I have never found any males of this species.
2008 was a banner year for crab spiders. My garden was busy with their presence as they lurked with forelegs extended, crablike, to snatch unwary victims. In a limited way, they adapted their colours from yellow to white according to the flowers in which they were concealed. Crab spiders do not build webs. They paralyze their victims with toxins and then store them to suck out the juices. All in all, it's just as well there is no larger equivalent of these arachnids.
Thus far in our rather rainy 2009 summer, I have seen only one and she quickly dropped out of view. I'll be hoping to add to my photo collection if the sun ever decides to come back; meanwhile, please enjoy these images from a brighter season.
The spider at left is, of course, ivory-white. She can change to yellow if she moves to a flower with petals of that colour, as her companions at centre and right have done.
Sometimes, the colour change is simply not done.
Centaurea seems to be a favourite hiding-place. Unfortunately, camouflage is impossible!
a tasty snack
blending in (yarrow blossom)
hidden by a sunflower - colour not yet changed to suit the yellow petals
taken with a little Olympus C5050Z - the shot that started my crab spider obsession!