|Northern Crab Spider - Mecaphesa asperata|
Family Thomisidae - Crab Spiders
Live crab spider photographed in the wild at Ogle County, Illinois
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Crab spiders (often called flower spiders) are known for their oversized front legs and resemblance to the familiar crustacean seafood item. Species in Thomisidae have camouflage which makes them nearly invisible when lying in wait on or near flowers, where they snag unwary insects blundering within range while nectaring. Their prey includes butterflies, flies, beetles, and bugs.
Somehow, crab spiders seem to take on the colors of flowers on which they sit. It is only against the neutral background of automotive carpeting that the true jade-green colors of this spider really stand out.
Like all spiders, crab spiders go through a simple metamorphosis. Young crab spiders hatch from eggs and look like tiny adults. They shed their skin as they grow. Most live for less than 1 year. Females produce hundreds of eggs in the fall, and the offspring hatch in the spring.
Class Arachnida / Order Araneae: Spiders are the largest group of arachnids. They are easily recognized by their eight legs, and there are few creatures great or small that elicit such irrational fear in mankind. The vast majority of spiders are completely harmless and offer beneficial services, chief of which is keeping the burgeoning insect population in check. I am continually amazed at the resourcefulness of these supremely successful predators.
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