Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

This species does not spin a web to catch its prey. Instead it lies in wait on flowers and vegetation for a suitable prey species to visit and swiftly ambushes the insect (2)(3). It then injects venom into the prey with the slender fangs (3).  Males deposit a drop of sperm which is taken up by specialised leg-like appendages known as 'palps'. During copulation, the sperm is passed to the female's reproductive organ (the 'epigyne'). After mating, the female lays the eggs, folds a leaf over them and spins a protective silk cocoon around the folded leaf. She will then cease to feed and stands guard over the eggs for around three weeks, after which the eggs hatch and the female dies (3).
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Description

There is just a single species in Britain belonging to the genus Misumena (2). As the common name suggests, it is reminiscent of a crab, with its wide, flattened body form and habit of sitting with the first pair of legs held apart (3). This spider has the remarkable ability to alter its colour to match its background, usually a white or yellow flower, allowing it to become beautifully camouflaged (3). The sexes are different in appearance; females vary in colour from white to pale green or yellow, depending on the background. They tend to have two pairs of bright red spots on the abdomen, but these may be fused to form red lines or even entirely missing. Males are much smaller in size than females and have more slender greenish white abdomens that feature brown stripes (2).
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Comprehensive Description

vatiaMisumenaThomisidaeAnimalia

Misumena vatia (Clerck, 1757)

Materials

Type status: Other material Occurrence: recordedBy: Kostanjšek , RTŠB 2011 ; sex: 1 male; Location: locationID: SI19; country: Slovenia ; locality: Ptujska cesta ; minimumElevationInMeters: 240; maximumElevationInMeters: 240; decimalLatitude: 46.6283 ; decimalLongitude: 15.9973 ; Event: eventDate: 2011-07-26 ; habitat: grassland

Type status: Other material Occurrence: recordedBy: Čandek ; sex: 1 female, 1 male; Location: locationID: SI38; country: Slovenia ; locality: Porece ; minimumElevationInMeters: 135; maximumElevationInMeters: 135; decimalLatitude: 45.8188 ; decimalLongitude: 13.9692 ; Event: eventDate: 2011-05-08 ; habitat: grassland

Type status: Other material Occurrence: recordedBy: Čandek ; sex: 1 female; Location: locationID: SI43; country: Slovenia ; locality: Vipava ; minimumElevationInMeters: 114; maximumElevationInMeters: 114; decimalLatitude: 45.8282 ; decimalLongitude: 13.9594 ; Event: eventDate: 2011-05-08 ; habitat: grassland

Type status: Other material Occurrence: recordedBy: Kuntner, Čandek ; sex: 1 female; Location: locationID: SI50; country: Slovenia ; locality: Sp. Praprece ; minimumElevationInMeters: 351; maximumElevationInMeters: 351; decimalLatitude: 46.1620 ; decimalLongitude: 14.6933 ; Event: eventDate: 2010-08-03/2012-05-28 ; habitat: house and surroundings

Type status: Other material Occurrence: recordedBy: Čandek ; sex: 2 females, 1 male; Location: locationID: SI60; country: Slovenia ; locality: Budanje ; minimumElevationInMeters: 295; maximumElevationInMeters: 295; decimalLatitude: 45.8799 ; decimalLongitude: 13.9459 ; Event: eventDate: 2011-05-07 ; habitat: forest clearing

Type status: Other material Occurrence: recordedBy: Čandek ; sex: 1 male; Location: locationID: SI61; country: Slovenia ; locality: Sekirisce ; minimumElevationInMeters: 750; maximumElevationInMeters: 750; decimalLatitude: 45.8631 ; decimalLongitude: 14.5367 ; Event: eventDate: 2011-06-23/2012-06-21 ; habitat: house, grassland, overgrowth

  • Candek, Klemen, Gregoric, Matjaz, Kostanjsek, Rok, Frick, Holger, Kropf, Christian, Kuntner, Matjaz, Miller, Jeremy A., Hoeksema, Bert W. (2013): Targeting a portion of central European spider diversity for permanent preservation. Biodiversity Data Journal 1, 980: 980-980, URL:http://dx.doi.org/10.3897/BDJ.1.e980
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Hoeksema, Bert W.

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vatiaMisumenaAraneaeArachnidaArthropodaAnimalia

Misumena vatia (Clerck, 1757)

Distribution

Holarctic.

Notes

Previously recorded from Ohrid ( Drensky 1929 , Drensky 1936 ).

  • Deltshev, Christo, Komnenov, Marjan, Blagoev, Gergin, Georgiev, Teodor, Lazarov, Stoyan, Stojkoska, Emilija, Naumova, Maria (2013): Faunistic diversity of spiders (Araneae) in Galichitsa mountain (FYR Macedonia). Biodiversity Data Journal 1, 977: 977-977, URL:http://dx.doi.org/10.3897/BDJ.1.e977
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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Geographic Range

This species is found in North America and Europe.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); palearctic (Native )

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Geographic Range

Crab spiders occur all around the world, but Misumena vatia is only found in North America and Europe (Anaconda II 1998; Kaston and Kaston 1956)

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); palearctic (Native )

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Range

In Britain, this spider is found mainly in southern England (2). It is also found throughout much of mainland Europe and North America (3).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Flowers spiders have short, wide, flat bodies. The first two pairs of legs are larger than the hind legs and held open so that the crab can easily hold its prey. Females are 6 to 9 mm long, males are smaller: 3 to 4 mm. The female is light colored: its back and legs are white or yellow with darker sides, and reddish markings on its abdomen. The male is darker: reddish brown in color with a white spot above the eyes. These colors are variable, and the spiders can change color to match the flower they hide on. Both sexes have small, venomous fangs.

Range length: 3.0 to 9.0 mm.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry ; venomous

Sexual Dimorphism: female larger

  • Comstock, J. 1965. The Spider Book. Ithaca, New York: Comstock Publishing Associates.
  • Kaston, B., E. Kaston. 1956. How To Know The Spiders. Dubuqe, Iowa: Wm. C. Brown Company.
  • Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia, 1997. "Crab Spider" (On-line). Accessed October 30, 2000 at http://encarta.msn.com.
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Physical Description

M.vatia resembles a crab, for its body is short, wide, and flattened. The first two pairs of legs are larger than the hind legs and held open -- the spider uses them to grab its prey. Females are 6 to 9 mm long, males are smaller: 3 to 4 mm. The female is light colored -- the carapace and legs are white or yellow with darker sides, and sometimes dark reddish markings on the abdomen. The male is darker over all: the carapace is a red to reddish brown with a white spot in the middle ascending to the eye area. The first and second legs are reddish brown, the third and fourth are yellow. The male also has a pair of dorsal and lateral parallel bands of red with a white background. The jaws of this spider are small and slender, and contain venom.

Identification of spiders requires detailed examination of their anatomy. M. vatia has two rows of eyes. The first row or the anterior row is equidistant and are slightly recurved. The second row is also equidistant, but is either more or less recurved. Also the front part of the median ocular area is narrower then behind. There are no teeth in the upper margin of furrow. The hair is simple and is either filiform or rod shaped and are erect. There are no spines on the first and second legs except under tibiae and metatarsi. The genus Misumena is identified within its subfamily Misumeninae by the shape and structure of the clypeus, the front of the cephalothorax (the front body section, where the eyes are).

Range length: 3.0 to 9.0 mm.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry ; venomous

Sexual Dimorphism: female larger

  • Comstock, J. 1965. The Spider Book. Ithaca, New York: Comstock Publishing Associates.
  • Kaston, B., E. Kaston. 1956. How To Know The Spiders. Dubuqe, Iowa: Wm. C. Brown Company.
  • Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia, 1997. "Crab Spider" (On-line). Accessed October 30, 2000 at http://encarta.msn.com.
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Ecology

Habitat

Flower spiders often hides on flowers like trillium, white fleabane, or goldenrod. They also may hunt on the ground or on low structures like fences.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: forest

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This type of spider is terrestrial and is known to be found on fences, vegetation, and on flowers like trillium, white fleabane, white flower, and goldenrod. (Comstock 1965)

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: forest

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The crab spider can be found on flowers and shrubs (2) in gardens, woodlands, grassland, and scrubby habitats (4).
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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

Flower spiders feed on invertebrates. They hunt on the ground or on plants, and are able to attack insects larger then themselves because of their venom. Some of the insects crab spiders feed on are Lepidoptera, Orthoptera, and especially Diptera and Hymenoptera.

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Food Habits

This spider feeds on invertebrates. It hunts on the ground or on vegetation, and it is able to attack larger insects then itself because of its venom. Some of the insects it feeds on are flies, butterflies, grasshoppers, and especially bees. This species often hides on a flower, and ambushes insects that land there. (Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 1997, Anaconda II 1998)

Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats non-insect arthropods)

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Associations

Predation

The main defense of this species is camouflage. It can bite other invertebrates, but that doesn't help against larger animals. Its fangs are too short and its venom is too weak.

Known Predators:

  • wasps (Hymenoptera)
  • ants (Formicidae)
  • spiders (Araneae)
  • birds (Aves)
  • lizards (Squamata)
  • shrews (Soricidae)

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Predation

The main defense of this species is camouflage. It can bite other invertebrates, but that doesn't help against larger animals. Its fangs are too short and its venom is too weak.

Known Predators:

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Known predators

Misumena vatia is prey of:
Aves
Araneae
Hymenoptera
Squamata
Formicidae
Soricidae

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
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Known prey organisms

Misumena vatia preys on:
non-insect arthropods

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
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Life History and Behavior

Life Cycle

Development

Females lay eggs. The spiderlings that hatch out look like mini-adults. As they grow they have to shed their skins, but they do not change their general shape.

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Development

Females lay eggs. The spiderlings that hatch out look like mini-adults. As they grow they have to shed their skins, but they do not change their general shape.

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

These spiders probably don't live more than two years, but we don't know for certain.

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Lifespan/Longevity

These spiders probably don't live more than two years, but we don't know for certain.

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Reproduction

We don't know very much about reproduction in this species.

Breeding season: Late spring and summer

Range gestation period: 30.0 (high) days.

Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization (Internal ); oviparous

In spring, after the female is fertilized she spins a cocoon where she lays the eggs. The egg sac is made up of a leaf folded over and is wrapped with a sheet of silk. After she lays the eggs, the female watches over the young and stops eating. She dies after the young hatch, which may take three weeks.

Parental Investment: female parental care

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In the male of this species the reproductive organ is represented by what's called a "palp organ" which is like an eye droper. Whereas for the female, the complementary organ for the palp is a "epigyne". Like most spiders the palp and the epigyne must be complementary like a key and a lock or mating cannot occur. Misumena vatia females are larger then the males. In spring, after the female is fertilized she spins a cocoon where she lays the eggs. The egg sac is made up of a leaf folded over and is wrapped with a sheet of silk. After she lays the eggs, the female watches over the young and stops eating. She dies after the young hatch, which may take three weeks.

Breeding season: Late spring and summer

Range gestation period: 30.0 (high) days.

Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization (Internal ); oviparous

In spring, after the female is fertilized she spins a cocoon where she lays the eggs. The egg sac is made up of a leaf folded over and is wrapped with a sheet of silk. After she lays the eggs, the female watches over the young and stops eating. She dies after the young hatch, which may take three weeks.

Parental Investment: female parental care

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Misumena vatia

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 7
Specimens with Barcodes: 136
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

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This is a common species that is not in need of special protection.

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: no special status

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

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This is a common species that is not in need of special protection.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

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Status

Not threatened (2)
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Threats

This spider is not threatened.
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Management

Conservation

Conservation action is not required for this common species.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

This species has no major negative effect on humans. It occasionally eats honeybees, but is probably not a major enemy of them. The bite of this species is not dangerous to people.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

This species sometimes feeds on pest insects such as grasshoppers and flies.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

The only negative effect that this spider can have is that it sometimes eats honeybees. It is not dangerous to humans.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

This species sometimes feeds on pest insects such as grasshoppers and flies (Comstock 1965).

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Wikipedia

Misumena vatia

Misumena vatia is a species of crab spider with holarctic distribution. In North America, where it is the largest and best-known flower spider, it is called the goldenrod crab spider or flower (crab) spider,[1] because it is commonly found hunting in goldenrod sprays in the autumn.

Goldenrod spider, imitating a flower

Young males in the early summer may be quite small and easily overlooked, but females can grow up to 10 mm (excluding legs); males reach 5 mm at most.

Description[edit]

These spiders may be yellow or white, depending on the flower in which they are hunting. Especially younger females, which may hunt on a variety of flowers such as daisies and sunflowers, may change color "at will". Older females require large amounts of relatively large prey to produce the best possible clutch of eggs. They are therefore, in North America, most commonly found in goldenrod (Solidago sp.), a bright yellow flower which attracts large numbers of insects, especially in autumn. It is often very hard even for a searching human to recognize one of these spiders on a yellow flower. These spiders are sometimes called banana spiders because of their striking yellow color.

Reproduction[edit]

The much smaller males scamper from flower to flower in search of females and are often seen missing one or more of their legs. This may be due either to near misses by predators such as birds or to fighting with other males.

When a male finds a female, he climbs over her head over her opisthosoma onto her underside, where he inserts his pedipalps to inseminate her.

The young reach a size of about 5 mm by autumn and spend the winter on the ground. They molt for the last time in May of the next year.

Color change[edit]

These spiders change color by secreting a liquid yellow pigment into the outer cell layer of the body. On a white base, this pigment is transported into lower layers, so that inner glands, filled with white guanine, become visible. If the spider dwells longer on a white plant, the yellow pigment is often excreted. It will then take the spider much longer to change to yellow, because it will have to produce the yellow pigment first. The color change is induced by visual feedback; spiders with painted eyes were found to have lost this ability.

The color change from white to yellow takes between 10 and 25 days, the reverse about six days. The yellow pigments have been identified as kynurenine and 3-hydroxykynurenine[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Acorn, John and Sheldon, Ian. Bugs of Ontario, Edmonton: Lone Pine Publishing, 2003
  2. ^ Oxford, G.S. & Gillespie, R.G. (1998). Evolution and Ecology of Spider Coloration. Annual Review of Entomology 43:619-643. doi:10.1146/annurev.ento.43.1.619 PMID 15012400
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