Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Move Along Folks, Nothing to See Here

Female Whitebanded Crab Spider "Misumenoides formosipes" (c) JohnAshley
Female Whitebanded Crab Spider hiding on a dandelion flower (click to enlarge)
See the pretty yellow spider? Yeah, neither will the next fly or moth or beetle that lands on this dandelion. And that's the point.

This female Whitebanded Crab Spider (Misumenoides formosipes), like others of her kind, prefers to hide in flowers and ambush her next meal, instead of building a web. (Some males, who are much much smaller, have been observed feeding on nectar as well.) The species name is Latin for "beautiful foot." Indeed.

Most sources say that crab spiders can change their body color over a few days to match their background. (See the white crab spider on a white daisy here.) But controversy might be brewing in spider land. One person apparently claims that he performed an experiment that disproves the color-change theory. Instead, he claims that female crab spiders who lay their eggs on plants bearing white flowers have white offspring, and females laying eggs on yellow-flowering plants have yellow youngsters.

I don't know who's correct here, but the original color-change theory seems more plausible to me.