Beautiful Beneficials: Crab Spiders

Spiders…Yikes! When I was a child I became terrified of spiders after having one run down my face in the bathtub. Still gives me the creeps. However, I have come to not fear spiders so much and revel in their existence more. In the house, they still bother me, I usually end up killing them by punching, but in the garden I usually leave them be, after all, they do eat other insects.

Crab spiders come in a wide range of colors


If you look closely to flowers as often as I do, searching out insects, you will find spiders of all kinds waiting for a meal on the flowers and plants. Crab spiders are especially common. They come in a wide range of colors and kinds, but forget about identification unless you are an entomologist, I have had no luck and many that look different end up being the same species with different coloration. I have come to seek out the crab spiders just for their beauty, if nothing else. 

While spiders do not seem to be particular about what they eat, as long as it is insects, they do eat a lot of pests along with other beneficials. 

This crab spider on Topeka Coneflower awaits landing prey

Crab spiders have long front legs that they hold wide open, waiting for prey to venture too close. They are usually camouflaged by having similar colors to the flowers they wait on. They may move slowly like a crab, but they are voracious eaters. 

This yellow crab spider is mimicking the yellow center of a flower on our native tall thistle

So next time you are in the garden, let the spiders be, so they can do your work for you.


Happy planting! 

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