Crab Spider Ambushes Bumblebee

Goldenrod Crab Spider Ambushing Bumblebee

I was walking along the edge of the rye field when I notice a bumblebee on a mustard flower. However the more I stared at it the more I noticed something was wrong. The bumblebee was not facing in the correct direction, namely such that it could gather nectar. And what’s more, it wasn’t moving. Then I notice a slight orange strip which begged closer inspection.

What I realized as I got closer was the bumblebee was not there by choice. It was in the jaws of a Goldenrod Crab Spider (Misumena vatia). Crab spiders are in the family Thomisidae and are considered ‘wandering’ spiders because they do not build webs to capture prey. Instead, they lay in wait and ambush prey that wander within the grasp of their long front legs.

This particular specimen was clearly a female as mature males have reddish-black front legs and cephalothorax. And the males are much smaller. This species specializes in eating bees and flies that pollinate flowers. Individuals can change their color over the course of a few day’s time to match the flower color they are sitting on. In this case the Goldenrod Crab Spider was sitting on a mustard flower and its camouflage was perfect.

Lucky find for me… Not so lucky for the bumblebee.