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Goldenrod Crab Spider (Misumena vatia)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Goldenrod Crab Spider.

 Updated: 8/23/2019; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org




Whether the bright yellow Goldenrod Crab Spider has or lacks trademark red stripes, the tiny spider stills blends in well with its namesake flowers.



This species of spider adeptly uses camouflage as its primary defense as well as offense. It will bite to protect itself if a predator is actually able to see it and attack. Goldenrod Crab Spiders are able to alter their coloration over the course of several days in order to blend in better with their surroundings. This means a bright yellow spider one day may look light green a week later.

This spider is an ambush spider, jumping on its prey. It does this instead of spinning webs, waiting for something to get entangled. Instead, a Goldenrod Crab Spider will sit in the center of a flower, preferably a Goldenrod flower which are yellow, and quietly wait for a bee or butterfly to come and collect pollen. Once near enough, the spider will close in and grab it. Very long front pairs of legs are used to grasp the insect prey, then the spider bites it to immobilize it. This species of spider is able to grab insects much bigger than itself with those strong legs. The longer front legs are usually stretched out to the side, giving the spider a crab-like appearance.

Males are smaller and have dark, black front legs and pale green back legs. The creamy white abdomen has two dark red lines running down the center. The head area is also dark. Younger males have not developed the dark pigmentation and are a light green color. Females may be completely white or yellow. They may or may not have red bands, spots or stripes on the sides of the round and plump abdomen. All the legs on a female are pale, in contrast to the two-toned nature of the male's legs. After mating, 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.




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Arachnida
      Order: Araneae
        Family: Thomisidae
          Genus: Misumena
            Species: vatia
Identifying Information
Scientific Name: Misumena vatia
Other Name(s): Flower Spider
Category: Spider
Size (Adult; Length): 3mm to 9mm (0.12in to 0.35in)
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: Yellow; red
Territorial Map
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
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Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
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
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Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
Mexican National Flag Graphic
Mexico
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.




Spider Anatomy
Graphic showing basic parts of spider anatomy
1
Legs: Spiders have four pairs of legs and these are attached to the cephalothorax.
2
Pedipalps: Small appendages near the mouth used as taste and smell organs.
3
Cephalothorax: Contains eyes, head, mouthparts, and legs.
4
Abdomen: Contains various organs related to digestion, reproduction, and web-making.
5
Spinnerets: Used in the production of spider silk for fashioning webs or catching prey.
NOTE: Unlike insects, spiders have both an endoskeleton (internal) and exoskeleton (external).