Plant-Insect-Arachnid Interaction: Flower crab spider devouring a flower fly that was pollinating a cutleaf toothwort

Posterior end of a flower fly (family Syrphidae) photographed 04/29/2011 near Blissfield Michigan.

Last week I spent some time examining flowering plants, looking for insect pollinators.  I came across this flower fly (family Syrphidae) with its behind sticking out of the inflorescence of a cutleaf toothwort (Dentaria laciniata, Brassicaceae).  It was probably enjoying the sugary nectar provided by the plant.  At the same time, it was probably spreading pollen from plant to plant, helping to pollinate the flowers and aid plant reproduction.

While I was trying to photograph the fly, I realized I would have to move the flowers slightly to the side to get a clear shot.  I was worried I would scare the fly off, so I was being very careful.  After manipulating the flowers for a minute, I was somewhat surprised that the fly didn’t move.  Then I suddenly realized why:

Flower crab spider (family Thomisidae) feeding on a flower fly (family Syrphidae) that was feeding on a cutleaf toothwort (Dentaria laciniata, Brassicaceae). Photographed 04/29/2011 near Blissfield Michigan.

The fly was in the clutches of a flower crab spider (family Thomisidae).  These spiders wait near flowers for pollinators to approach and then ambush them.  After delivering potent paralyzing venom, they grab their prey and suck out the juices.

Flower crab spider (family Thomisidae) feeding on a flower fly (family Syrphidae) that was feeding on a cutleaf toothwort (Dentaria laciniata, Brassicaceae). Photographed 04/29/2011 near Blissfield Michigan.

I’ve written about these crab spiders once before, but this was the first time I saw one with prey.  The hairy body and rear-facing posterior lateral eyes suggest this spider is of the genus Mecaphesa.

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About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Botany, Ecology, Entomology, Organism Interactions and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Plant-Insect-Arachnid Interaction: Flower crab spider devouring a flower fly that was pollinating a cutleaf toothwort

  1. Pingback: Random Plant: Cutleaf toothwort | The Life of Your Time

  2. Pingback: Plant-Insect-Arachnid Interaction: Flower crab spider waiting for a meal on a roughleaf dogwood | The Life of Your Time

  3. Pingback: Insect Love: Jagged ambush bugs | The Life of Your Time

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