Book Review: Crab Spiders by Joanne Randolph, in Nightmare Creatures: Spiders! Series Title #2

by DerdriuMarriner

Crab Spiders is Nightmare Creatures: Spiders! series title #2. Joanne Randolph shares facts on the crab spider's bio-geography, life cycle, and natural history.

Crab spiders have crablike moves and powerful venom:

Crab spiders articulate backward, forward, and sideways movements with the fluidity of crabs. They belong to the Thomisidae spider family whose species total 2,000 worldwide and 200+ within North America. They can be recognized by:
• two backward-curved humps of four feeble-sighted, small-sized, wide-spaced eyes each, atop the cephalo-thorax (merged head and thorax);
• two front pairs of long, seven-segmented, slim legs capable of pincer-snapping prey, covered with prey-immobilizing hairs on the insides, and culminating in two-clawed tips; and
• two rear pairs of seven-segmented, short, stump-like legs ending in two-clawed tips.

Since they do not have teeth with which to mash such food sources as insects -- especially ants and bumblebees -- and other spiders, they depend upon fangs.

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website: http://www.rosenpublishing.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=40

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General distribution of crab spiders

Thomisidae habitat distribution, drawn after Platnick: World Spider Catalog 7.0.
Thomisidae habitat distribution, drawn after Platnick: World Spider Catalog 7.0.

Crab spiders like fresh, not stockpiled, food sources

 

Arachnid and insect exo-skeletons encase drained interiors once crab spiders inject powerful venom and remove contents dissolved by digestive fluids. Crab spiders find their feeding methods conducive to consuming ambushed, fresh, opportunistic prey on the spot and counterproductive to stockpiling for rainy days. The behavior gives crab spiders motionless, passive, stay-at-home forages around homes at ground level, on herbaceous and woody plants, or under stones in or on:

  • beaches;
  • deserts;
  • forests;
  • gardens;
  • grasslands; and
  • mountains.

Crab spiders therefore have diminutive life cycles and natural histories consistent with:

  • the small sizes to which they mature, with the biggest females and littlest males respectively measuring 0.8 (20.32) and 0.08 inches (2.03 millimeters); and 
  • the small niches which they occupy. 

 

Goldenrod crab spider (Misumena vatia) camouflages in goldenrod (Solidago spp).

Richmond County, south central North Carolina
Richmond County, south central North Carolina

Crab spiders pull together as posthumously born orphans

 

Consistent with many other spider species, the crab spiderling is hatched from eggs deposited in silk-spun sacs on silk-fastened leaves or under stones. Female crab spiders join their eggs at the incubation location even though mothers often die of starvation or stress before the hatchlings emerge. Newborns and spiderlings therefore know what they need to survive communally, genetically or instinctually within the shared confines of their mass birthplace even though they interact rarely with their mothers and never with their fathers. For example, the crab spider species commonly known as flower, goldenrod, and heather spiders live as respectively white-, yellow-, or pink-bodied residents of ornamental plants -- daisies, goldenrods, and pink-spotted orchids -- whose colors they assume. 

 

A crab spider face: pareidolia influences humans to discern familiarity, such as faces, in impossible associations.

Beltsville, Prince George's County, south central Maryland
Beltsville, Prince George's County, south central Maryland

Crab spiders teach the fine art of camouflage

 

The info-book Crab Spiders marks the second installment in the PowerKids Press release of 2014 by The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc. of New York. In its role as learning tool or review summary, it therefore nudges into the Nightmare Creatures: Spiders! series spot between: 

  • #1 Black Widow Spiders
  • #3 Jumping Spiders
  • #4 Orb-Weaver Spiders
  • #5 Tarantulas; and 
  • #6 Wolf Spiders

As in the case of all the other titles, it offers -- for third- to seventh-graders aged 8 to 12 years -- culturally enriching and educationally entertaining insights into spider family bio-geographies, life cycles, and natural histories, thanks to: 

  • book designer Andrew Povolny; 
  • editors Norman D. Graubart, Jennifer Way; 
  • photo researcher Katie Stryker; and 
  • writer Joanne Randolph.  

 

A crab spider (Thomisidae) feasts upon its prey, a Grey Pansy (Junonia atlites) butterfly dangling from Zinnia elegans flower.

Crab spider feeding Junonia atlites in Kadavoor: Kadavoor, Kerala, southwestern India
Crab spider feeding Junonia atlites in Kadavoor: Kadavoor, Kerala, southwestern India

Acknowledgment

 

My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.

 

Predatory crab spider in proximity to its prey, an ant, on a globe thistle (Echinops spp).

the crab spider and the ant
the crab spider and the ant

Sources Consulted

 

Randolph, Joanne. 2014. Crab Spiders. PowerKids Press: Nightmare Creatures: Spiders! Series Title #2. New York, NY: The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc. 

 

Crab spiders are always in ambush mode.

crab spider in the garden
crab spider in the garden
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Crab Spiders by Joanne Randolph

Nightmare Creatures: Spiders!
Crab Spiders

Crab spider feeding on a metal mark butterfly it ambushed: poster available via AllPosters

photo by George Grall
Crab Spider Feeding on a Metal Mark Butterfly it Ambushed a on Flower

Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 03/11/2015, DerdriuMarriner
 
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DerdriuMarriner on 03/12/2015

dustytoes, Me, too, I find crab spiders to be interesting. Their patience, sitting quietly on flowers, is phenomenal. Their camouflage is well done. Such a wonderful experience, indeed, to see white crab spiders on your daisies. Yellow crab spiders like the goldenrods near my house.

dustytoes on 03/11/2015

I see white crab spiders on my daisies in summer. Little spiders, that are not poisonous, don't bother me. I find them interesting.

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