When people hear about the crab spider, they usually panic. Everyone knows that spiders are not among our favorite animals, but this does not make them less interesting than other species. The crab spider, for example, is quite fascinating. Although the term crab spider designates several species of spiders, the most common ones are the flower crab spiders. The flower crab spider belongs to the Thomisidae family, which was described for the first time by the Swedish zoologist Carl Jacob Sundevall, in 1833. There are more than 2000 species included in the Thomisidae family, belonging to 170 genera, and spread all around the world.
One of the greatest crab spider species is Misumena vatia. This species reunites mostly the yellow and the white crab spider. The color is, in fact, the most interesting thing about the yellow and the white crab spider, as they have a chameleon feature. The yellow and the white crab spider have a holarctic distribution, meaning that they are spread throughout the northern continents of the planet. So these crab spider species are mostly found in North America, where they are also known as the goldenrod crab spider or flower crab spider. This name comes from the fact that crab spiders are hunting in flowers, mainly in goldenrod. The bright yellow coloration of goldenrod attracts many insects, which makes it the perfect place for the crab spider to hunt.
As these crab spider species have the ability to change their color, by secreting a liquid yellow pigment, insects barely notice them, so they are easily trapped. In fact, humans can have a hard time noticing them too, as they can have the exact same color as the flower where they are hiding. However, the crab spider first dwells on a white plant, because it takes longer for the yellow pigment to appear. Usually, it takes somewhere between 10 and 25 days for crab spiders to change their color from white to yellow, while the reverse process can happen in just 6 days. Another particularly interesting fact about these crab spider species is that males are usually smaller than females, and they often have a leg missing, due to fights with other males or unsuccessful predators.