This species of spider uses camouflage as its primary defense as well as offense. It will bite to protect itself as well. Goldenrod Crab Spiders are able to change their coloration over the course of several days in order to blend in better with their surroundings.
They are an ambush spider, jumping on their prey. They do this instead of spinning webs and waiting for something to get tangled. They sit in the center of a flower, preferably a Goldenrod flower which are yellow, and wait for a bee or butterfly on its way to collect pollen to wander in close enough to grab. It uses its very long front pairs of legs to grasp the insect prey then bites it to immobilize it. They are able to grab insects much bigger than themselves with these strong legs (see photos).
Males are a darker yellow-brown with red bands and white on their abdomen. Females are completely white or yellow, and may or may not have red bands, spots or stripes on the abdomen.
A female lays an egg sac, usually under a leaf, and diligently guards it until the spiderlings hatch (in approximately 3 weeks). She dies shortly thereafter.
Common name: Goldenrod Crab Spider
Scientific Name: Misumena vatia
Other Names: Flower Spider
Adult Size (Length): 3mm to 9mm (0.12in to 0.35in) COMPARE
Identifying Colors: Yellow; red
North American Reach (Though Not Limited To*): Alabama; Alaska; Arizona; Arkansas; California; Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Hawaii; Idaho; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Montana; Nebraska; Nevada; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Oregon; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Utah; Vermont; Virginia; Washington; West Virginia; Wisconsin; Wyoming; Alberta; British Columbia; Manitoba; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Saskatchewan; Mexico
* Keep in mind that insect reach is not governed by lines on a map and therefore may appear in areas/regions/states beyond those listed above.