Insect Identification
Insect Identification

Goldenrod Crab Spider - (Misumena vatia)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 7/10/2014

The bright yellow Goldenrod Crab Spider may or may not have red stripes. It stills blends in with the flowers its sits on.

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.

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Category: Spider
Common name: Goldenrod Crab Spider
Scientific Name: Misumena vatia
Other Names: Flower Spider

  Kingdom: Animalia
   Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Arachnida
     Order: Araneae
      Family: Thomisidae
       Genus: Misumena
        Species: vatia

Adult Size (Length): 3mm to 9mm (0.12in to 0.35in)

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.