Since the term ‘crab spider’ is commonly applied to many spider species, many people have a hard time identifying it. However, this term is most nearly consistently to members of the Thomisidae family, among which it refers most often to the familiar species of ‘flower crab spiders’.
Generally, crab spiders are found outdoors and, interestingly, do not make a web. What they do instead is catch their pray with their front legs. Another interesting fact about this species is that the crab spider can actually remain in the same place – a flower, for example – for days, or even weeks, until its dinner arrives.
Without further ado, here are some tips that will help you identify crab spiders easily.
Crab spiders are usually found on flowers, rocks, leaves, bark or soil, so these are the places you should look first. These spiders just sit around waiting for their prey, without spinning webs.
Crab spiders change their color to match their background, which makes them harder to find. Their colors range from pale yellow to white and even green, depending on what they are sitting on. This is why you may have to observe a flower or leaf for quite a while before being able to detect a crab spider sitting on it, since their camouflage ability is quite impressive.
Their legs are also something you want to observe. Remember that their first four forward legs are extended out to the sideways and are usually a bit longer than the rear four legs. In this respect, crab spiders are very similar to crabs.
If you have managed to detect a crab spider in one of its preferred habitats but still aren’t sure that you have found what you’re looking for, a good idea would be to tease the spider by gently poking it with a twig. If the spider widens its legs and moves sideways, then you are lucky to have found a crab spider. This spider will also wave its “tentacles” in the same way that water crabs do.
Besides these great tips, here are some other pieces of information on the crab spider that will help you know the species better.
- The crab spider is 1/10” to 2/5” long (4 to 10 mm);
- This species is not poisonous to humans; it is only poisonous to its prey;
- It can be found worldwide, but lives mostly in North America;
- Crab spiders eat insects and bees, which they immobilize by injecting their venom;
- Finding crab spiders indoors is very rare. However, since they prefer sitting on flowers, you should check the flowers you cut from your garden before bringing them in.
Hopefully, these tips will be very useful in case you want to find a crab spider or, on the other hand, if you are keen on avoiding this species.
Image source: wikiHow