Misumena vatia (Goldenrod Crab Spider)

About Misumena vatia

Taxonomic Hierarchy

→ Kingdom: Animalia
→ Phylum: Arthropoda
→ Class: Arachnida
→ Order: Araneae
→ Family: Thomisidae
→ Genus: Misumena
→ Species: Misumena vatia

Common Name (Official / AAS)

Goldenrod Crab Spider

Other Common Names

Flower Crab Spider, Yellow Crab Spider, White Crab Spider, Smooth Crab Spider

Author

Author of species name: Carl Alexander Clerck. First year published: 1757, as Araneus vatius.

Pronunciation

miz-YOU-men-uh VAY-tee-uh

Meaning

In Greek, Misumena translates to a feminine “object of hate” or “being hated” (Cameron 2005). In Latin, the species name vatia means “bowlegged.” (Clerck’s original naming of the species, Araneus vatius, was simply meant to mean “bowlegged spider,” but the species was later moved to genus Misumena.)

Notable Previous Names

Misumena calycina

Identifying Traits of Misumena vatia

Size

Body length (excluding legs) of adult female ranges from 6-11 mm; adult males range from 2.5-4 mm.

Female Primary Colors

Male Primary Colors

Eye diagram of Misumena vatia

Eyes

Total of eight eyes. Viewed from the front as two horizontal rows of four; posterior (back) eye row straight, whereas the anterior row is recurved. Lateral eyes are on short tubercles. Eyes are small and widely spaced. In females, the area surrounding the eyes is usually a bright color like yellow, orange, or red.

Legs

Front two pairs of legs are much longer and stronger than the short rear pairs. All legs appear smooth but with a closer exam, short black spines and hairs cover each one. In females, the legs are plain white or yellow without any markings whatsoever. In adult males, the two rear pairs of legs are pale yellow or green and unmarked, while the front two pairs are reddish brown with yellow bands. The prey capturing stance of these spiders is very noticeable: front pairs of legs spread wide open, ready to snatch whatever insect comes too close. Crab spiders have what is called a “laterigrade leg orientation,” which describes the way their legs are rotated at the base so that they can walk sideways (like a real crab would do). Tip of each leg has 2 claws.

Body

Range of Misumena vatia

Misumena vatia can be found in the following states, provinces and territories across the United States and Canada. Our current understanding of each spider's distribution is drawn from numerous scientific publications and online spider submissions, in order to be as accurate as possible. It is important to remember that spiders do not adhere to the territorial lines decided on by humans, therefore these ranges are subject to change.

Important Range Notes

This is a holarctic species, meaning it is found across the entire Northern Hemisphere.

United States

Canada

Additional Information

Habitat

Common on all sorts of flowers, herbs, and shrubs in pastures, gardens, orchards, and other similar places. Goldenrod flowers are well-known places to find them, as well as milkweed (milkweed is one of their most preferred sites for laying their eggs and guarding them until they hatch).

Web

This species is a sit-and-wait predator that does not use a web for prey capture. Instead, they sit perched atop flowers with their front pairs of legs spread open wide in preparation for capturing whatever unlucky insect comes near. They do, however, produce safety lines (in case of a fall) and egg sacs out of their silk.

Season

Males mature in spring and summer, females in the first half of summer.

Food

Like many spider species, this one is opportunistic and will eat whatever insect or spider it can capture. Because of their chosen habitat, the majority of their diet includes pollinators (e.g. bumblebees, honeybees, butterflies, moths, syrphid flies, etc). Interestingly, the male Goldenrod Crab Spider has even been known to sometimes dine on flower pollen. Primarily daytime feeders, they are also known to feed late into the night on warm days when insect activity is high, which suggests that they are not solely dependent on their vision for capturing prey.

Lifecycle

This is an annual species (lives approximately one year). Males mature earlier in the year than females, find as many mates as possible, and then die shortly thereafter. Females must gain a lot of body weight after reaching maturity so that they have enough energy to support egg development; 85% of their total weight is added on after they reach maturity (Fritz & Morse 1985). After a few weeks of feeding as much as they can, and mating, the females begin selecting good nesting sites. Milkweed that is no longer flowering is one of their favorite spots for this. The female will fold over the tip of a leaf and web it together, then lay her eggs inside the “pocket.” This species usually only produces one brood of eggs in their lifetime (two broods is relatively rare, but does happen). She stands guard over the eggs until her death at the onset of winter. The eggs hatch about three weeks after they were deposited and the spiderlings (babies) overwinter, maturing the following spring or summer… and the cycle repeats.

Remarks

Pictures of Misumena vatia (Goldenrod Crab Spider)

General

Female Spiders

Male Spiders

Filtering options are grayed out when we do not have pictures for the given perspective. If you are a spider photographer, you can submit pictures of spiders to help fill any voids in our ever expanding library.
  • Misumena vatia
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • City/Region: Blue Mountain Overlook, Deer Park, Olympic National Park, Elev. =6100', near Port Angeles
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Misumena vatia
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal, Eyes
  • City/Region: Ontario
  • Country: Canada
  • Misumena vatia
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Eyes
  • City/Region: Krain
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Misumena vatia
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Immature
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • City/Region: Alberta
  • Country: Canada
  • Misumena vatia
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • City/Region: Coon Creek Trail, Los Osos
  • State: California
  • Country: United States
  • Misumena vatia
  • Sex: MaleMale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • City/Region: Krain
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Misumena vatia
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • City/Region: Gig Harbor, Pierce County
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Misumena vatia
  • Sex: Male, FemaleMale, Female
  • Maturity: Adult, Immature
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • City/Region: Krain
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Misumena vatia
  • Sex: Male, FemaleMale, Female
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal, Lateral
  • City/Region: Pembrokeshire
  • Country: Wales
  • Misumena vatia
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Eyes, Gravid
  • State: Rhode Island
  • Country: United States
  • Misumena vatia
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • City/Region: Royalston
  • State: Massachusetts
  • Country: United States
  • Misumena vatia
  • Sex: MaleMale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • City/Region: Harvard
  • State: Massachusetts
  • Country: United States
  • Misumena vatia
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • State: Michigan
  • Country: United States
  • Misumena vatia
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Eyes
  • City/Region: San Francisco
  • State: California
  • Country: United States
  • Misumena vatia
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Immature
  • Attributes: Lateral
  • State: Connecticut
  • Country: United States
  • Misumena vatia
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • State: Michigan
  • Country: United States
  • Misumena vatia
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Attributes: Eyes
  • City/Region: Gold Beach
  • State: Oregon
  • Country: United States
  • Misumena vatia
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • City/Region: Gold Beach
  • State: Oregon
  • Country: United States

References and Further Reading

Various Research Papers

Scientific Diagrams and Keys for Identification

References for the Casual Reader

Species guide last updated: May 13, 2014

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