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Running Crab Spider (Philodromus spp.)

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

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The Running Crab Spider is always on the hunt for food, stealthily stalking and rapidly dispatching insect prey.

Updated: 01/05/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
These fast-moving spiders are agile enough to outrun predators as well as human hands trying to collect them. Running Crab Spiders do not spin silk webs to catch an insect. They chase it down, bite it to inject spider venom, and then consume it when convenient. With such alarming speed, it is a comfort to many that this spider remains a small one.

The camouflage brown and tan mottling on a Running Crab Spider makes it difficult to spot it in leaf litter and on tree trunks if it sits motionless. The front pair of legs may look longer than the back legs, but they really are the same length. The way these front pairs of legs are held and how they are used when moving is similar to true Crab Spiders. It may be easy to mistake a Running Crab Spider for a Crab Spider as they are close relatives, but true Crab Spiders have much longer front legs than back legs.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Insect biting icon
Hairy insect icon
Patterned insect icon
Spiny / Spiky insect icon
Venomous insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Arachnida
      Order: Araneae
        Family: Philodromidae
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          Genus: Philodromus
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            Species: spp.

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Philodromus spp.
Category: Spider
Size (Adult; Length): 2mm to 11mm (0.07" to 0.43")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown; black; tan; red
Descriptors: spiny; spots; crab-like; biting; venomous; hairy

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 2mm (0.1in) and 11mm (0.4in)
Lo: 2mm
Md: 6.5mm
Hi: 11mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Running Crab Spider may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Running Crab Spider. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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