Goldenrod crab spider

Misumena vatia

''Misumena vatia'' is a species of crab spider with holarctic distribution. In North America, where it is the largest and best-known flower spider, it is called the goldenrod crab spider or flower spider, because it is commonly found hunting in goldenrod sprays in the autumn.
A Mating Pair of Misumena vatia While enjoying lunch on our deck my wife pointed out the female crab spider on a blossom. Initially it was quite relaxed but when any sort of insect flew by it immediately stretched out its forelegs. After a time I noticed a smaller spider getting closer and closer till it started crawling over the female. Only then did I realize it was a male. The pair got tired of me watching and crawled into the darker recesses! Canada,Geotagged,Goldenrod crab spider,Misumena vatia

Appearance

Young males in the early summer may be quite small and easily overlooked, but females can grow up to 10 mm; males reach 5 mm at most.

These spiders may be yellow or white, depending on the flower in which they are hunting. Especially younger females, which may hunt on a variety of flowers such as daisies and sunflowers, may change color at will.

Older females require large amounts of relatively large prey to produce the best possible clutch of eggs. They are therefore, in North America, most commonly found in goldenrod, a bright yellow flower which attracts large numbers of insects, especially in autumn.

It is often very hard even for a searching human to recognize one of these spiders on a yellow flower. These spiders are sometimes called banana spiders because of their striking yellow color.
Goldenrod Crab Spider Blending in with his surrounding is a Goldenrod Crab Spider (Misumena vatia) at the Columbia Wetlands, British Columbia, Canada. Ramsar site no. 1463. British Columbia,Canada,Columbia Wetlands,Geotagged,Goldenrod Crab Spider,Misumena vatia,Ramsar wetland,Spring

Reproduction

The much smaller males scamper from flower to flower in search of females and are often seen missing one or more of their legs. This may be due either to near misses by predators such as birds or to fighting with other males.

When a male finds a female, he climbs over her head over her opisthosoma onto her underside, where he inserts his pedipalps to inseminate her.

The young reach a size of about 5 mm by autumn and spend the winter on the ground. They molt for the last time in May of the next year.

Because ''Misumena vatia'' employs camouflaging, it is able to focus more energy on growth and reproduction rather than finding food and escaping from predators. As in many Thomisidae species, there is a positive correlation between female weight and egg clutch size, or fecundity. Selection for larger female body size thus increases reproductive success.

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