Alberta, Canada
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Goldenrod Crab Spider
Misumena vatia
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General Description

By Nora Bryan

The Goldenrod Crab Spider is perhaps the best known of Alberta’s 30 or so crab spiders. This familiar yellow or white spider can be found across Alberta hiding within or beneath flowers. Goldenrod and the centres of wild roses are good places to look for these cryptic spiders.

Like most spiders, the female crab spider is considerably larger than her mate. Females are about 8 mm (5/16 in.) and males are only 3 mm (1/8 in.) long. Crab spiders, including the Goldenrod Crab Spider is named for its crab-like appearance. The eight legs are held out to the side, and like a crab, this spider can walk forward, backwards or sideways. The round abdomen shows small dimples (like a Ritz cracker) and there is a pink stripe on the side. This spider is famous for being able to change colour to match the flower it is sitting on – if it is a white or yellow flower. It has not mastered the ability to turn pink or purple! It remains conspicuous on other coloured flowers. The change between white and yellow takes a couple of days to complete.

The Goldenrod Crab Spider spends much of its time patiently waiting, front legs extended inside or concealed just beneath a flower. When a suitable prey insect lands, the spider swiftly grabs it and pierces it with small fangs right at the neck. Paralyzing venom keeps the insect immobile but with the heart pumping. The unwilling insect is forced to pump its lifeblood straight into the spider! Look closely at insects that seem unusually still or at an odd angle on a flower, and you might find it attached to a crab spider, tipped upwards like a mug of beer while the spider sips.

Although these spiders, like all spiders, can spin silk – it is not used to spin a web. The males use the silk to restrain females during mating. Spider sex is always a bit dangerous for the males as female spiders tend to be pretty much fixated on locating prey to the exclusion of other activities. The female uses silk to protect her eggs. She actively guards her egg sac, but dies before the young spiderlings hatch.

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Where to find Goldenrod Crab Spiders in Alberta   

There is currently no information regarding this species in our Where & When database.

Goldenrod Crab Spider Behaviour   

No observations regarding Goldenrod Crab Spider behavior have been submitted to the database yet.

Interesting Facts about Goldenrod Crab Spiders   

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Goldenrod Crab Spider Stories from our Readers   

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Goldenrod Crab Spider Sounds

  • No sounds for this species in our library at this time.

Recent Goldenrod Crab Spider Reports in Alberta


No. Location Reporter Date
1 Town of Cardston Roberts 2011/09/24
1 Cranston moore 2011/09/23
1 Terwillegar Area aanderson 2011/08/21
1 Town of Canmore Duncan 2011/07/31
2 Whitemud Creek Ravine South Mark 2011/07/29

Goldenrod Crab Spider Hotspots in Alberta

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