Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah
image A female goldenrod crab spider devours her recent catch. She was located on a wild sunflower in Middle Canyon. She was not harmed during the photography.

May 29, 2014
Goldenrod crab spiders camouflage on flowers to eat

Originally named after the sea creature it physically resembles, the goldenrod crab spider also derives its name from a flower it uses for hunting. This spider is known for hiding on the stamen of flowers, possessing remarkable camouflaging capabilities. This technique is a unique color-changing transformation, because the spider is able to shift between the colors of white and yellow.

By color-matching daisies, sunflowers, or goldenrods (solidago flowers), this peculiar spider conceals itself in these plants so it may hunt insects comparable to its own size. Devouring wasps, flies, moths, bees and butterflies, the goldenrod crab spider will sit patiently until its prey lands within its grasp. When a nectar- or pollen-eating insect approaches the occupied flower, the unseen spider then ambushes, bites, paralyzes and fatally suckles the insect dry of its body fluids.

During mating season, male goldenrod crab spiders seeking a mate will search many flowers before they come across an awaiting female. In fact, males tend to lose a few legs trying to escape birds and other predators, or fighting off other males by the time they reach a mate. When a female is found and after they mate, she then leaves to lay her eggs in a safer location. She does so by cocooning and wrapping the young in a single leaf. Not ever leaving the eggs, the female goldenrod crab spider eventually dies of starvation from committedly standing guard over the unhatched spiders. A short while after the mother’s death, the young hatch and immediately leave their provided nest, off to fend for themselves.

 

Addie T. Lindsay is 17 years old and is an accomplished writer and photographer of wildlife creatures, big and small. She can be reached at CritterChatter@Live.com.

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