Gardens are full of curious things if you look closely enough. Tiny bugs, small fungus and even little golden spiders that like to hunt on flowers. These are the flower spiders, from the family Thomisidae. The flower spiders are a colourful group, running the gamut from yellow to red to black and white, in a myriad of patterns.
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Flower spiders, often called crab spiders, have a very distinctive body structure that makes them difficult to mistake for any other kind of spider. They hold their front two pairs of legs slightly bent, in a crablike posture. Their abdomens are flattened, and the flower spider is often spotted walking in a sideways pattern.
The flower spider is often seen stalking prey on flowers and leafy plants, such as tarragon. They are ambush predators, so instead of spinning a web, they simply stake out a good spot and wait for insects to come to them. Being indiscriminate eaters, they will generally capture and eat any kind of insect that happens by. Many flower spiders have the ability to change their colours to match that of the plants on which they hunt.
An especially small flower spider may be a young spider. When flower spiders hatch, they resemble tiny adults, they moult as they grow larger, but do not change forms. These arachnids rarely live more than a year. Flower spiders hatch in the spring, grow through the summer and lay their eggs in the fall. The adults often die in winter, but the eggs are able to remain dormant until spring comes again.
Common Yellow Flower Spiders
Yellow and gold are popular colours for flower spiders. In fact, the most common flower spiders are yellow. Goldenrod spiders are the most common type of flower spider, they range in colour from white to yellow. Walckenaer spiders are golden yellow with black striped legs and black markings on their abdoment. Araneae spiders are yellow in colour. The whitebanded crab spiders are often golden with yellow stripes, through they can be black with white bands.
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- University of Kentucky Entomology; Crab Spiders of Kentucky; Blake Newton; May 2004
- University of Missouri Extension; Crab Spiders; March 2003
- University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Field Station: Crab Spiders
- City University of New York: Welcome to Spider World
- Duke University; Crab Spiders; Jeffrey S. Pippen; September 2006