Goldenrod Crab Spiders

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by Pat Jaquith

People who look closely at flowers may also see a variety of insects. Pollinators’ visits are self-serving: they are attracted to the flowers for the nectar or pollen they can collect for food. Only incidentally do they provide the service of pollination. Crab Goldenrod Spiders (named for the flower where they are frequently observed) visit flowers to seek nourishment by preying on the pollinators.

Crab Goldenrod Spiders do not spin webs to capture insects, but rather they lie in wait with
forelegs outstretched to ambush a visiting pollinator. They hold the prey with their forelegs, and inject a paralyzing venom which liquifies the insides of their victim. They then suck up the liquified meal. The Crab Goldenrod spiders are able to change their color to blend with the host flower.
Calochortus apiculatus (3 Spot Mariposa Lily) with Crab Goldenrod Spider
Ventral view of Crab Goldenrod Spider that was on Antennaria (Pussytoes)
Crab Goldenrod Spider with honeybee on Penstemon
Male Goldenrod Crab Spider with insect on Calochortus apiculatus (3 Spot Mariposa Lily) Males have dark thorax and dark forelegs.
Slender Crab Spider on Calochortus apiculatus

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